Change: the collective vs the individual

One of the things about life I am struggling to accept is that collectively, we find it really hard to give a damn.

Time and time again, our collective “care factor” on huge problems or grand challenges – like poverty, health, education, social justice, environmental sustainability – is shown to be negligible.

Care factor seems to be inversely proportional to the number of people involved.

“At every turn, when humanity is asked the question, ‘Do you want temporary economic gain or long-term environmental loss, which one do you prefer,’ we invariably choose the money.” — Ethan Hawke.

“Why should I care when no one else seems to?” is a common excuse. “Why should I deny myself when others are not?” and “the government will fix it.”

Counter-intuitively, we are at our most selfish when acting as a collective.

Do we fare better as individuals?

Clearly individuals do care, and care deeply. They work hard to raise and maintain awareness of the grand challenges we face.

Perhaps we need to change tactics on how to enable more large scale change. Should we focus on enabling those individuals who are already well on the way to change, and forget trying to appeal to the masses as a collective? Should we focus on empowering the choir as it were?

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