What is “change the world”?

I was on the train today thinking about the expression “change the world”. Since starting this blog, I have used the phrase on a number of occasions, without really explaining what I mean. Now is the time to “change the world”.

I start with –

1) every person has a collection of “thoughts and behaviours”. These can be modified.

2) whenever we engage with someone, in whatever way (conversation, email, phone) the outcome of that interaction is determined by the “thoughts and behaviours” on both sides. An outcome is produced.

3) what we know as society, is just a pyramid of all these interactions, happening millions of times per second. Society produces a collective result of what is acceptable and not acceptable. Think of smoking, think of slavery. At different times society determines what is ok to do. Politics and government is just a reflection of what society says is ok.

4) get back to point number one. We change our “thoughts and behaviours” and we eventually “change the world”.

Is this just too freaky? Is there a flaw in my thinking?

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10 Responses to “What is “change the world”?”

  1. desiree Says:

    Well I for one agree with you!!!

  2. derekcslater Says:

    I’ll buy it. Blogging is a good way to exponentially increase your number of interactions – or meaningful interactions. More interactions = an accelerated rate of world change (following your train of thought)? Is there a quasi-empirical indication somewhere that the world is actually changing faster today than in the past?

  3. theblubbed Says:

    Hey, there. Is it actually “changing” our thoughts and behaviours, or is it more of gaining a new context in how we view life through a filter? The filters are definitely there. I think that once we recognize the filters (that influence our thoughts and our behaviours), the change happens naturally. Add to that our interactions with other people and their OWN filters…hmm. Yes, I do think the world can change this way.

    Just some Food for thought.

  4. homeyra Says:

    Speaking of my self, I grew up with a notion of a somehow “still” world, and change “has to be” an improvement.
    This view was also strengthen by let’s say the dominant Hollywood-world view.
    Goethe wrote:
    Everything has been thought of before, but the problem is to think of it again.

    The “tiny” awareness of a necessary effort, of our daily even minimal input, consciousness of the importance of “thinking of it again” is something I learned much much later.
    If I was a religious person, I would say this is a daily prayer…

  5. Dejan Says:

    “There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.”

    Aldous Huxley

    I like your thinking; indeed – we have first to define what changing the world means. But there is always danger of conformism, that we have to be aware of. Keep up the good work.

    There will be an agreement in whatever variety of actions, so they be each honest and natural in their hour. For of one will, the actions will be harmonious, however unlike they seem. These varieties are lost sight of at a little distance, at a little height of thought. One tendency unites them all. The voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line of a hundred tacks. See the line from a sufficient distance, and it straightens itself to the average tendency. Your genuine action will explain itself, and will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing. Act singly, and what you have already done singly will justify you now. Greatness appeals to the future. If I can be firm enough to-day to do right, and scorn eyes, I must have done so much right before as to defend me now. Be it how it will, do right now. Always scorn appearances, and you always may. The force of character is cumulative. All the foregone days of virtue work their health into this.

    R.W.Emerson – Self-Reliance

  6. broadsunlituplands Says:

    Thoughts, behaviors, and attitudes can be modified, but they can also remain intransigent in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. And we have seen the horror and ultimate failure of force to make a permanent change in thoughts, behaviors, and attitudes in the XXth century. I think one persuades people to change, who are willing to change, and that takes time… generational time.

    I’d suggest much behavior at least is conditioned to the rules and incentives that pertain in a given society. For example, look at the variety of societies that stem from Britain as “mother country.” Are the day to day differences derived from divergent behaviors, thoughts, and attitudes, or derived from divergent electoral and governmental rules and incentives?

    My point, made another way is, for example in regard to Congressional corruption, do we remake the people or the institution. I am skeptical that the kind of people drawn to and successful in congress as is, are reformable. But what if we changed how we selected our national legislature, and how they were held accountable: would that result in a different sort of persons in the legislature?

    I hope this is on topic.

  7. ncurse Says:

    Hey mate, you got your critics at Scienceblogs, take a look at them! 🙂

  8. SilverTiger Says:

    I take it that “world” in this context really means something like “human society”. We have already “changed the world” in another sense and as a result are facing dire consequences. I refer, of course, to “global warming”.

    I don’t doubt that the world in the first sense is a function of the behaviours and attitudes of all the individuals that compose it but it would be very difficult to explain the function in detail. We are simply not wise enough to be able to prescribe a particular change in order to bring about a particular end result – think how often government policies have to be reversed or abandoned because the results were not as expected or were ineffectual.

    The “world” also contains a feedback mechanism: as society changes, individuals are changed by it. For example, some decades ago, racial discrimination was common in Britain but the recent alleged “racial abuse” in a TV programme caused a furore across the nation and literally thousands of official complaints. This feedback further complicates the design of policies for improvement as it may cause the results may be unexpected or even the opposite of what one intended.

    As broadsunlituplands points out, there are “intransigeant” people, i.e. bigots and those who try to exploit any situation to their own advantage whose attitudes and behaviours are not changed easily or even at all. We have to take them into account.

    Does that mean we should not try to “change the world”? Not necessarily, but we should remember that the way we wish to change the world may not be the way other people wish to change it. By what right do we think our view should prevail over theirs? There is a danger sliding into religious or political sectarianism.

    Email SilverTiger

  9. Crawdaddy Says:

    Dude, let’s be ambitious. Change the world means CHANGE THE WORLD! Affecting a few people’s thoughts in minor ways is one thing. Thomas Edison changed the world. Martin Luther King, Jr. changed the world. Abner Doubleday (founder of baseball) changed the world. And YOU are changing the world, one blog post at a time, my friend……

  10. bloggernista Says:

    That’s, of course, why Time Magazine named “you” as the person of the year. The interactions that we have with others, particularly those that spring from the internet, may seem tiny and meaningless. But, its this kind of engagement with people and ideas that generates new ways of thinking and behaving.

    I am not so full of myself that I think that I can “change the world” but we definitely can. My motto of the moment, derive from the tv show Heroes, is “build the movement, save the world.”

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