Steering at All Levels

Have you ever watched a ladder truck race out with their sirens howling on their way to a fire? Have you ever noticed the guy in the back with his own steering wheel? They need that second steering wheel in order to maneuver around corners and through traffic. It is the same with cultural changes; culture does not turn on a dime. We have to work at all levels to bring about change: the personal, the political and the global or mythic level.

Consider the environment, as an example; we have made incredible progress at the mythic level. In fact, one of the reasons some folks contend we started the Iraqi war was to force the issue of Alaskan oil drilling. Environmental protection is so embedded within the American psyche nowadays; the only way to get past it is by evoking scarcity and the threat of terrorism. Now we could always hope that scarcity would help us in promoting alternative fuel sources, and it has. But we need to continually steer this change at all levels.

And one-way is to stop making SUVs the enemy.

Why do folks buy SUVs? Because it is today’s station wagon. Didn’t you ever ride in a station wagon as a child? It was a place to put all your children, your stuff and had horsepower to boot -- not a bad deal. The SUV is, at a mythic level, today’s version of the pioneers’ wagon. You cannot fight a symbol with that much mythic juice.

We need to instead find ways to make public transportation and high mileage vehicles and hybrids the mythic choice. What would be a better mythic level tactic? Well, consider your own habits. Why do you drive less, drive a high mileage car and ride share as much as you can? Oh, you have made these choices right? So you already know first hand why anyone else would choose similarly?

It always starts at the personal level. Examine the mythos within your personal decisions that reflect the changes you want to see in the world. And express that image, symbol or myth within the public sphere. Poets, musicians, artists and filmmakers express the mythic, and we, as activists, must learn to do it too.

Another example, how do you resolve conflicts with your neighbors, your co-workers, drivers in traffic, and within your home? If you don’t understand how or you do not actively engage in conflict resolution in these spheres, how on earth are you going work for peace in the Middle East or anywhere else for that matter?

From The Personal to The Mythic

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