The Path of Change—Principles and Priorities, Agenda and Mobilization


There is increasing realization that our deeply troubled world and endangered planet need a different path. What are to be the basic principles and most urgent priorities of this path, what will be its basic agenda and mobilization strategies?

The most basic and durable principles are clear enough—equality and justice, peace and disarmament, democracy and decentralization, protection of environment, protection and welfare of various life-forms. These are durable principles of all times which must be integrated to the most urgent priorities of our times. The most urgent priority of our times is to resolve the unprecedented survival crisis before it is too late. This survival crisis has been created by about a dozen or so mostly inter-related serious environmental problems led by climate change, by weapons of mass destruction and by some other factors.

The basic agenda is to integrate all these principles and priorities to create a comprehensive program of social change which the world actually needs. It is easier to pursue each of the basic principles in isolation, but as the needs of people and our world are not confined to just one principle, this one principle will not take us very far. What is more, pursuit of just one principle can also lead to avoidable, even harmful excesses, as well as avoidable clashes with other basic principles and objectives based on them. So the real challenge is to integrate basic principles and urgent priorities into a comprehensive agenda of change. Of course in terms of need and special capability a person may work on a single issue for a long time, but this work must be informed by the broader understanding of all these principles and their linkages.  The other aspect of integration is of integrating local and global concerns—for example the way in which local peace efforts can also be supportive of international and world peace.

Thirdly, the mobilization strategy should be based on non-violence and reaching out to as many people as possible, with special emphasis on younger people. There should be clarity that the path is one of non-violence and not of violence, of transparency and not of secrecy. Peaceful mobilization of a significant number of people, who are clear about what they are trying to achieve and have firm faith in their objectives and principles of creating a better, safer, just and peaceful world, is almost certain to lead to good results sooner or later, and in any case this appears to be the most relevant, satisfying and desirable work to do. An important part of this mobilization would be to formulate and spread a different vision of the world these people want to create. This mobilization will have to learn to resolve several internal differences with patience, and to continue to work together for bigger causes even when there are differences on less important issues. There should be a combination of constructive work and protests, not just protests. People should be free to decide the level at which will they will work, their role and contribution, according to their limitations and constraints as well as special strengths and capabilities. They should have very clear ideas about what they stand for in their dialogue with policy makers and authorities. They should be prepared, when needed, to seek getting elected at local decentralized levels, and at higher levels if possible, and have clarity about their plan of action even within existing constraints, without sacrificing their essential principles.

Bharat Dogra is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include Planet in Peril, A Day in 2071, Earth without Borders and Protecting Earth for Children.

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