This is why I read your stuff, Raam. It knocks the wind out of you, but keeps you coming back for more.
Whether it’s you, Sandra, Sarath, me or any of the other hundreds/thousands/millions(?) of people asking the same question, one thing is clear to me: We can’t let the fact that no silver bullet solution is readily apparent stop us from taking personal action ourselves first.
You control you. I control me. In this way, we can take small but concrete steps to change ourselves: what we do, how we behave, what we believe, what is important to us, what we can learn and educate ourselves on, etc. When we then live this life fully and for all to see, we then become a light unto others, helping to illuminate their path so that they too can have that “a-ha” moment and begin to pay it forward.
The realist in me then gets smacked with the fact that deep, substantial and lasting change is strongly challenged by the societal infrastructures we live in — capitalist, democratic, religious, etc. These are huge obstacles in our path that will only begin to change by getting involved at the ground level.
We have to be engaged 110% in the change we want to see. We have to influence. We have to be on the ground getting our boots dirty and hands in the muck. There lies the opportunity for our individual talents to shine.
If you are good at organizing, organize something; if you are good at teaching, teach others; if you are good at relationships and influence, get into local politics or fund raising; if you are good at building or fixing things, find a non-profit (or a neighbor) that needs that. The list goes on.
But at the end of the day, we all know that seeing the majority of world’s population come up to Western standards of living is NOT the answer. It’s unsustainable. But it is likely unavoidable to some extent. This just puts the impetus on the Western world to start dialing back its lifestyle — whether voluntarily or by force (the likely scenario as crap hits the fan) — so the World Community can meet somewhere in the middle. But how do you do THAT? Especially in the face of more pressing things like keeping/finding a job, putting food on the table and a roof over your head and clothes on your kids’ backs… I think that might be a tougher problem to solve than improving the lives of non-Westerners.
Sorry for the long-winded comment. I could go on for a while, but I’ll stop there. Long story short: Don’t wait for someone to figure out the “answer”. You know in your heart what to do. Just have the conviction to do it, stick with it and share it with as many people as you can.
I’m happy to take the conversation off-line (skype?) with anyone who wants to. Be well.