We have two parallel narratives in our society today, on one hand, we are becoming more individualistic and our own personal welfare has become a priority, we are more narcissistic and driven by pressures of consumerism. But we also have the opposing narrative where we have become more vocal about social disparities and inequalities, we are having more open debate and discussions of the equal welfare opportunities, we are more ‘Woke’ about our surroundings.
To create actual change, the discussion and debates on the social climate of any community need to be driven beyond just hashtags, tweets and sharable posts on social media. We need to cultivate social consciousness in our thoughts as well as in our actions. The first step is to nurture it first within ourselves. We need to educate ourselves in the injustices in our community and major challenges being faced by the natural environment around us. We can no longer be complacent towards poverty or climate change, we need to rise above our own ignorance and entitlement and develop empathy to the unpleasant realities around us.
Gretchen Wallace Founder of Global Grassroots has defined five principles of conscious social change:
Principle ONE: Cultivate Presence
The overarching practice of the path of conscious change is being fully present in every moment. The more we look deeply into ourselves and listen to our emotions without reacting, we come to understand with clarity the underlying reasons for our anxiety, pain, and fears. As we begin to see the root of suffering and the path of change in ourselves, we can find compassion for the difficulties of suffering and the challenges of change in others.
Principle TWO: Become Whole
The second principle is to be proactive in addressing our own wounding, fears, limiting beliefs and shadows that can distort our perspective and cause us unconsciously to harm others while protecting ourselves.
Principle THREE: Ensure Balance
The third principle is using ‘presence’ for balance and self‐care. By committing to ongoing personal transformation practices, we can more easily attend to our own need for balance so that we avoid burnout, but stay whole, grounded and completely available to do our work in the world.
Principle FOUR: Stay Attuned
The fourth principle is using presence to stay attuned to the changing needs of those we aim to serve, so we do not stay stuck on our own agenda or abuse our power.
Principle FIVE: Leverage Inner Purpose to Create Social Innovation
The final key principle in initiating conscious social change is to listen for an individual calling and then to learn how we can leverage it to create social innovation. Bringing presence to our social justice work allows for radical creativity. Clarity among conscious change agents allows for personal agenda to make room for the best ideas to move forward.