As I sit on a cold Tuesday morning with the heat off and many sweaters on, I am simultaneously reading the paper, listening to Radio Four and catching up on the Bloggers Circle. I am forced to reflect that all of this collective hand ringing is actually reaching a very small audience and that this small audience is not very effective at putting the collective hand ringing to good use. I am an active participant in the collective: I read, I write, I listen, I have heated discussions with friends, I go to lectures at the RSA...and yet I feel, as Patrick Hadfield does that, on some important issues such as climate change, the world is not changing for the better - or at least not fast enough.
There are probably loads of different reasons for that, most of which have to do with the fact that the people with power are older, less energentic and idealistic, and have a short term view which stems from the fact that their main priority is keeping their jobs, and have less time for "extra curricular activities". The net result of the list is that they are more interested in doing what it takes to maintain their status quo than in effecting world change. Realistically, that is what drives decision making both at a corporate and at a government level.
These people can be influenced to a point. The questions are who does the influencing and in what way?
On the influencing front, I have tried writing letters to my MP (no response), joined in the protest of the war in Iraq (failed), and recently participated in Climate Camp which was a thoroughly depressing experience. Firstly, because I did not have dread locks and am clearly over 21, I was consistently asked if I would like a leaflet, rather than accepted as a participant. Secondly, for all the enthusiastic chat, and gung ho educational modules about how to "do" civil disobedience, among other things, the organisers actually did not know, in the main, who - WHO - they were trying to influence. We gathered outside the head offices of large corporations. Did the protesters know who ran them (and thus who they should write to, phone, e mail in order to influence them?): no. Did the protesters know the latest about the enviromental policies of these large companies: no. They meant well but are too prejudiced and narrow minded to ever make a big impact because they refuse to learn who they should be influencing, and how.
We need to be able to marry experience with enthusiasm in vast quantities in order to change the world. Age and youth need to work together. So here is my starter for ten list of suggestions to the members of the Bloggers Circle, the RSA, and the reader regarding how to do that and, in that way, ideally change the world:
1. Get your criminal check done so you can go and speak about something at your local school (get them while they are young).
2. Contact an action group and see if they are open minded enough to have you come in and speak to them about organising themselves better and getting to know who it is they need to influence. Give lessons in corporate culture, how to write a letter, draw an org chart on the wall to show them how the decisions are made, teach them about CSR and how to manipulate it.
3. RSA: find some way to get university students involved on a regular basis in what we are doing and see if we can harness some of their ideas and enthusiasm in return for...?
I have motivated myself whilst writing this and will contact Climate Camp forthwith to have a chat about my observations and offer my services to them. Sadly, I am nearly 100% certain I will be thanked and dismissed because I don't fit their profile. Watch this space.