I have been wondering for months, if not years, Can one Change the World? This has been a nagging question that has caused me sleepless nights. It is a question I fear to engage with. It is a question that brings insomnia. How can I do my part in the change process, Can I be recognised,in any case do I need to be recognised or rewarded or remembered, can I touch somebody’s life, how can one touch someone else’s life, yet, personally, s/he is not even touched? Is the world full of liars and hypocrites? What does it mean to be a change agent, what does it take to be a change agent? In the past 5 years I have met fellow comrades who are so passionate and driven on the need to change the world. ‘We represent the marginalised’, who are these if I may ask? But what keeps me wondering is whether fellow comrades are truthful to the cause. Such a question is so pertinent in light of the commercialisation and NGOisation of the change the world mantra. I repeat, (for years), I have heard the same tired narrative and discourse on changing the world. But why is the world not changing?
When the participation in the movement is purely driven by selfish interests as being witnessed through the commercialisation/commodification of the suffering of others – who will then change the world? In simple, are we truthful and genuine to the cause of helping the poor and the marginalised? Aren’t we participating them? Aren’t we driven more by using them to satisfy our selfish personal gains. When the participation in the movement is driven more by the need for self – enrichment and not as a calling, can we say we are agents of change who have a passion.
I don’t intend to be condescending here. You, me and s/he – we all need money in our lives! At least let us say the truth. This reminds me of the play Death of a Salesman by Willy Lowman – whereby one character noted that (‘we have never said the truth in this house, for at least for five (5) minutes). Leadership courses have been done, workshops have been held, and symposiums have come and gone, leadership retreats continue to be lined up at least for the next few coming years. Much profound gratitude to those who fund. What these platforms do is to continue reproducing the dominant narratives on changing the world and leadership coaching. The very same narratives and discourses are further reproduced within our very same institutions, NGOs (in particular) but the question that remains in the offing is whether we are all genuine and truthful to the cause of others.
Isn’t this a form of Otherisation whereby we all hide behind the others? Can we really change the world? Are we change agents. At some point in our lives we were young. It was the young man/woman from University carrying thick voluminous books, full of energy, passion, courage and motivation to make a difference. We all wanted to change the world. But we haven’t changed the world. At least the world is changing us. Others have tasted power and the trappings which come with power. Maybe the enemy of the people has dangled a poisoned carrot. When we nurture lying leadership (especially political elites) – when lying becomes a profession, what more can we expect from change agents. We are agents of Change. Who will save the World? These are dangerous times that need thorough and deep reflections and some self- introspection.
These are the times for asking not the easy questions but rather the difficult questions. It is also a time for self- reflection. Let’s all take a long journey into ourselves. Let’s us sit in the scorching sun – the same way we do to those poor and powerless villagers who always walk 30km to come and listen to our speeches. Let us feel the same feelings they feel. We give them nothing but false hope. In returning the kind gesture they clap for us and some even break into sang and dance.
We should all take a moral bath. We are all ‘dirty’. After a good-long bath we should look straight into the mirror and ask ourselves several questions. Is this the real me? Why do I play politics with other people’s suffering? We should all look, stare and glare on the blue sky. You may have been frustrated, you are not alone. I have also been frustrated, for I joined the struggle thinking we are in this together. Little did I knew we were in this for different reasons. Nobody is a saint but at least let it be known that this is a career. Spare us the Change Agent mantra. We have heard enough and we continue to hear it more often. But nothing ever changes. You might have had bigger and useful ideas and dreams. All have evaporated and vanished into thin air. You faced and suffered resistance from your fellow colleagues (who purport to be agents of change).
Sooner, you realised the world is more complicated than you had thought. Like a person who is in the open field whilst it is raining cats and dogs, the truth and reality starts crystallising unto you – nobody is truthful except for a counted few. That is if they exist at all. I bet with my bottom dollar, the genuine ones are now a rare and endangered specie. The rest we are pretenders, bootlickers and liars. We have all seen this, even in the church they play politics. The pastor rolls expensive and latest cars whilst the congregates can’t even afford a single meal per day. This is a sad reality of our times. The world is full of deceit, betrayal, lies – the sooner we come to terms with reality, the sooner we can come to our true self.
You will never change the world, rather the World changes you. The world is more complicated than you think. It’s like trying to move a mountain. Some say it can be done. The taste of the pudding is in the eating. At some point we all had ambitions, dreams and energy to change the world. At some point we were freshly mint University graduates (from the University libraries) we came into the world full of confidence. With the sands of time, the energy was drained. The time for short stories and theories were over. It was time to look the beast in the eye. We had to confront the elephant in the room. Some we knew it was never going to be a dinner party or a beauty contest – but some also thought they would shake and change the world like Harlem Shake. This only happens in a flash mob, movie or soap opera, or some series or season.
You found corruption in existence, abuse of power was there, struggle for power and struggle for resources. All this existed. You will drain your energies – it’s always good to leave your mark in this world. When the day of calling beckons, you silently leave this world, in the epitaph on your grave we inscribe REST IN ETERNAL PEACE. Maybe you had lived a self-fulfilling life? Maybe you have made Change….Maybe ,maybe…
But in this lifetime never lie to others, I am Changing the World. At least tell the truth for at least 5 minutes.