Many Ways to Change People’s Consciousness

I think our models for changing people’s consciousness have tended to be too narrow and bound by tradition, and that we seriously underestimate the impact of the arts in providing contradictions to distress.

I think we need to be as creative as possible in using all of what we are, and have to offer, to meet the current environmental challenge. Any way that we can offer contradiction to the core distresses driving ecological destruction is useful. I am learning that my work has been far more effective than I knew. I think this is true for most of us.

I recently became bedridden with a bad back injury, and I spend a lot of my time in bed. I can’t go to meetings or work in organizations or even attend most RC workshops, and I can’t teach RC in the way we traditionally do—in weekly in-person classes modeled on school. So I tell stories over the Internet and in print. I tell stories that celebrate human solidarity, or show the workings of oppression, or hold out hope, or celebrate the courage and integrity of people who have come before us. I tell the stories that get people discharging, which I know because they write and tell me about it.

I keep discharging whatever gets in my way of speaking in my own most authentic, truthful voice as a Puerto Rican Jewish woman of Indigenous, African, and European heritages. I resist the pull of assimilation, which would weaken my voice.

There is always a way to keep holding out reality, and reality held up against distress brings discharge and changes consciousness. One way I hold out reality is to keep telling people in the United States and Europe to pay attention to Latin America, because right now it is a deep, rich source of contradiction*—one that racism and imperialism are preventing many people from finding. Governments committed to social justice are making decisions that protect the earth.

Ecuador has a project to leave a large pool of oil in the ground, under a rain forest, and is asking the rich countries of the world to pay it to do that. It is asking for half the profit it could make by selling the oil and has collected more than half of what it has asked for. Ecuador has put the rights of the earth into its constitution. Any citizen can go to court on behalf of the earth.

Bolivia requires all development projects to respect a powerful list of rights of the earth. Bolivian president Evo Morales has been a strong global leader on environmental issues in more ways than I have time to tell about here, all of them inspiring. They can provide a big contradiction for anyone who feels hopeless or overpowered.

These countries have declared their independence from the corporations that are organized around the distresses of greed and domination; they are making very different kinds of policies. This can show people that something else is possible. That’s a huge deal.

I’d love to hear what others have figured out about creative ways to offer contradictions.

Aurora Levins Morales
Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
Reprinted from the e-mail discussion list for RC Community members

* Contradiction to distress


Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00