Social Change

In the history and education of social and political movements, the evolution of the movement for social change is generally neglected and emphasis is given only to the end result. This pattern of exclusive focus has led to the emergence of the following trends: first, future generations do not benefit from the lessons learnt from the experiences of movement building through the patience, suffering, courage and perseverance that a peoples must undergo; second, people start looking for instant answers and solutions because it is the instant successes and recognition that has been sold or is sellable through the false narrative; third, and while the historical evolution of peoples’ movements involves significant contributions from participants over generations across decades, their conclusions are localized in space and time. 

The metaphor of the ‘life of a river’ illustrates this point. Too often focus is not given to the origins and evolution of a river’s life that begins in the mountains, and the struggle it undergoes in order to reach the valleys and plains until it can adequately sustain itself without losing its very essence – life. We are not fully able to comprehend and appreciate the struggles that it endures since the public fascination is only focused and frozen in time and space to the fertility and nourishment of the life giving energy and resources it provides. The understanding of peoples’ struggles and movements too are frozen in time and space largely due to the perceived inability to grasp the whole ‘story’ which has been a result of conditioning through the monoculture of dominant educational, political, cultural, military, and social forces.

Human society is said to be perpetually transforming. However, having said that, the last few generations have witnessed now more than ever before the change towards embracing a predominantly hegemonic system. Thus, while the dynamics of human progression are constantly fluctuating, the shift has been more towards the right. Therefore, since this shift has been more towards enforcing the status quo, it effectively stifles significant social transformation towards enhancing the quality of human life and freedom. Without this transformative quality, human life will become stagnant. This failure to recognize and respond to the natural inherent self-transforming quality reflects the loss of basic humanization and wellbeing. 

Theories of social change are contextual in nature. Strategies and designs for social change need to be based on the people’s aspirations. Therefore, there is a greater responsibility to embrace a more holistic understanding of knowledge, culture, patterns of interaction and relationships in the struggle for social change. One of the greatest challenges for the collective struggle is to seek ways in which the transformative elements of relationship can be restored not only between peoples but also between people and the structures in which they co-exist. Key elements of this restorative process include relating with modesty, humility and sincerity. Unless this restoration takes place, movements for social changes will invariably continue to perpetuate the dominant understanding of relationship, which is violence in itself.