The Personal Path to Social Change

Cultural transformation doesn’t happen quickly. It occurs over centuries and comes in waves, as it did when patriarchy supplanted matriarchy as the dominant social model. We often can’t see the change from where we sit, in the eye of the cultural storm, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t occurring.

Paul Hawken, an environmentalist and entrepreneur, identified one such wave, operating below the radar of mainstream news, in Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Social Movement in History Is Restoring Grace, Justice and Beauty to the World. And although the book was published nearly 10 years ago, in the context of cultural transformation, his observations are still salient today.

At the time, by Hawken’s count, organizations working toward positive change in the world numbered between one and two million. These groups were dispersed and independent, were comprised of students, businesspeople and grandmothers, and their followers found them rather than the other way around.

Operating in nontraditional places, from African jungles to Park Avenue suites, they were organic and almost biologic, Hawken noted, and carried an altruism that had almost mythic roots.

What these groups, and the individuals who were a part of them, shared was a passion, often triggered by personal experience, to mend some aspect of the world that was broken.

“The gift is in the wound,” Marion Woodman, a Jungian analyst, noted. We get broken. We mend, and in that mending, find our unique contribution to the world.

This is the path of the hero, marred with blood from the battle, but inspired to share his stories and “lessons learned” so that others, and the world, can heal.


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