A Mechanism for Change

by Mike Nickerson, Contributing Author • Ontario, Canada.

Key to how societies evolve is legitimacy – what it means to be a good human. Leading a good life is important to most people. As a result, thousands of millions of actions are regularly informed by the established legitimacy. These actions taken together are sufficient in scale to address today’s complex of serious problems. The objective is to shift the basic legitimacy from earn and spend as much as possible to living lightly, enjoying life and managing the world in the interest of the children and grandchildren.

The following explains how important legitimacy is:

Imagine going into the wilderness with a pack-sac full of tools and the intent of staying there by yourself, for two years. What are the chances of coming out in good health?

Not too likely, tho occasionally some adventurous young adult will see it as an interesting challenge.

Even if you were able to return in good health, you would have done so with tools that other people made, with a knowledge of how to use those tools that you learned from other people.

Even the words and concepts that we think with, we learn from our society.

A person without a society is like a computer without an operating system. Great potential, but without information, we can’t do anything.

We are completely dependent on our society so we want to belong.

The price of admission is to subscribe to the value system of the society. If legitimate activity involves earning and spending as much money as possible, that is what people will do to be good, to belong and to make society strong, so they can survive within it.

As humankind presses up against the limits of our planet, a new legitimacy is emerging. We need to live lightly, get as much satisfaction from living as possible and to mange the material world in ways that preserve the viability of the Earth’s life-supporting systems.

When this gains legitimacy, this is what people will do to be good, to make our society strong. Indeed, responding to such legitimacy can stimulate action on a scale that can accomplish what is needed to make our society strong again, so we can survive within it.

In many ways these values are already understood. Our challenge is to bring them forward to be clearly seen as the new legitimacy. “More Fun, Less Stuff” is a subtle way to introduce the issue. We can use it as a handle to move the new legitimacy forward.

The change that we have to accomplish and how this one mechanism can help bring it about are outlined in this exerpt from Life, Money and Illusion.

The foundation for this new legitimacy will emerge as the conversation spreads through our networks of family, friends and associates.

What are we trying to accomplish as a society? Is it really our collective will to grow until we drop? Or do we seek to secure, satisfying lives for ourselves and for our children’s children and the families they will want to raise?

This is the Question of Direction.

When this question is resolved, the conventional wisdom about what it means to be a good human being will shift. As individuals, our purpose will no longer be “to earn and spend as much money as possible.” To be good, we will aim “to have as little impact on the Earth as we can, to get as much satisfaction from living as possible and to manage the natural world in a way that assures long-term well-being.

As established legitimacy, the new form can stimulate the vast amount of participation that is needed to survive as societies.

For more information, please visit SustainWellBeing.net.