Paul Loeb: Particularly in these difficult times, we often use our children as reasons to avoid getting involved in critical issues. We’ve got all we can handle holding on to our jobs and spending a little time with them. We fear political commitments will make their lives more insecure. Especially when they’re young, it may be all we can do just to go to work, come home, pay attention to their needs, and catch a few scarce hours of sleep. Yet when we do find ways to get engaged, our children can give us powerful reasons to act.
Paul Loeb: I love viewing Gandhi not as the master strategist of social change that he later became, but as someone who at first was literally tongue-tied–shyer and more intimidated than almost anyone we can imagine. His story is a caution against the impulse to try and achieve perfection before we begin the journey of social change.
Paul Loeb: As Angie’s involvement deepened, she found more ways to act on her newfound convictions. She brought over 100 Virginia Tech students to Power Shift, a national student climate change conference held at the University of Maryland. Angie also helped plan the entertainment, and as she looked out from the stage at 6,000 students, “felt for the first time like we really have a movement.”
Paul Loeb: It’s been a frustrating time since November 2008, but our challenge is to spend less time bemoaning our disappointments and more energy engaging with ordinary citizens the way so many of us did a year and a half ago. If we give people enough ways to act on our present crises, we never know how history might turn.
Paul Rogat Loeb: None of us can predict when the causes we support will capture the popular imagination or enlist someone who goes on to do powerful work for justice. “Before water turns to ice,” writes psychologist Joanna Macy, “it looks just the same as before. Then a few crystals form, and suddenly the whole system undergoes cataclysmic change.”
Paul Loeb: Nothing makes us feel more powerless than the corruption of our democracy by money. It undermines progress on every issue we face. If America is ever to deal with our critical problems, we’re going to need to sever the links between wealth and politics, a task made more challenging by the recent Supreme Court decision that overturned a hundred years of precedent to increase still further the influence of companies like Exxon, United Health and Goldman Sachs.
Paul Loeb: Dashed hopes also matter. Politics may be the art of compromise, but from health care to Guantanamo to Afghanistan and the bank bailouts, the compromises of the Obama administration have added up to belie the image of a candidacy of change.