Updated: Sep 20, 2020
Not translating ideas into action is the reason why we're stuck as a society.
We all see the problems around us. Murder, deceit, and an appalling downturn in morality and basic human decency. We don't lack any theoretical input, nor do we lack creative minds to come up with creative solutions to national problems such as the rise in crime and homicide.
What we lack, sadly, is the actual utilization and implementation of these ideas, and the ability—or the drive—to translate these ideas into action. Real, tangible action whose results we can see day in and day out.
So how can we move from ideation to creation?
Societies don't like change. Once a (new) norm sets in, year after year, society gets used to it. Embraces it, making it part of a legacy. Purporting new change can become a hassle—of course when said change is improving society.
Take any problem with society. Homicide? Rape? Sexual harassment? The stupid governments ruling the intellects? Homelessness? Immigration? Political hegemony in the West controlling developing countries with puppet regimes? Wars? Netflix normalizing pedophilia? The general societal oblivion? I could go on and on.
Take any problem you see that pertains to the societal norms—whether locally, regionally, or internationally—and propose a solution. In certain cases, it's a difficult mission to come up with ideas. But mostly, it's child's play.
End homicide? Stop gun-trading, amend laws, increase policing.
End sexual harassment? Stop the sexualization of women. Shun, outcast, and banish instigators. Amend laws.
For every problem, there is a solution
Yes, for the most part, that solution is theoretical at best. Why? Because you can't change the people around you. When you grow up in a society that not only doesn't prevent a certain appalling norm but even endorses it, there's little you can do about it. "Start slow," they'll tell you, "start with your family." But even that will take lightyears to accomplish.
Not only that. When you're one fighter trying to rid society of a shitty norm against a hundred others trying to promote it, your chances drop to zero.
Changing society is a war. Yes, that's what it essentially is. If you take on the mission of changing people around you—changing how they think, how they behave, what values they uphold, what the source of their morals is, and how they conduct themselves—you need to be prepared for the journey. Just like you don't go to battle without a weapon and a shield, you don't go to change society without a vision, a plan, and the drive.
These are the only three things you need.
A vision so that you know what the outcome will be. What you want society to look like in the process and after the change.
A plan is your weapon. It is comprised of all the practical steps that you need to utilize in order to change society. They have to be very practical and on-point. Stating "change society" as your Step One isn't very practical. Instead, try "talk about [insert issue]." That's a good first step; now follow it with a hundred more.
The drive is what ensures the continuity of your plan. It's as simple as not giving a f*ck about what people say, but also fighting back. You need to have perseverance and determination to be able to continue delivering your message and applying the change.
These elements are vital in the process of changing society. A vision is an easy thing to come up with; it's merely ideas that we get overnight. A theoretical roadmap to reach new heights. We're good at coming up with ideas, but not so much as implementing those ideas.
Here's why, in my opinion.
1) A flawed perception of societal norms
What is a "societal norm"? Put simply, it constitutes the behaviors, actions, and worldview of people in a society. Something that is widely known to be done subconsciously, without any preliminary thinking. A good example is when you shake hands with someone who you just met. It's a tradition—a custom that everyone does, to the point that if you don't follow this behavior, you're considered weird or atypical.
When society gets used—either some ages ago or recently—to a new norm, it allows it to infiltrate every household and disseminate its preceding tradition. Sometimes, this new norm is fantastic; a new norm that people like you have been encouraging and promoting. But most of the time (at least in the past few decades) it's a bad norm that sets in.
So how can we distinguish the good from the bad? One might claim this question is inane and laughable. What do you mean to distinguish? Smoking in public is bad. Sexual harassment is bad. That's easy to tell. But what about education? Modernism in education? What about the public school system? What about children's addiction to technology? Robberies? Adultery? Abortion?
Most of the time, a societal norm isn't simply right or wrong. Societal norms are based on subjective opinions, especially norms that are novel—that are rebellious and challenging. When we do this separation, we allow ourselves to conduct dialogue on what is and what is not perceived as a societal norm.
This specifically pertains to social cases more than moral, religious, or identity-related cases. People have differing worldviews on religion, morality, and all forms of identity. People are polarized on education, on government systems, on war, on technology...
For some people, this is a case of right and wrong, and that is fine (it is for me). However, topics like sexual harassment, sexual assault, homicide, pedophilia, etc. are cases of pure right and wrong.
When you embark on the journey of changing society, you have to categorize topics and norms into what is and what isn't something you should change. You don't go around telling people not to drive cars, because that's primitive and stupid. You don't go around telling people not to use their phones at all.
You have to be reasonable. Prioritize what social norms are even subject to change. What isn't even a social norm... What are your views on the topic at hand... According to whom is this "norm" harmful to society?
This way, a social warrior has a clear vision of what should be changed. But people wanting to change society encompass lots of different topics that are different in their very essence. If you want to advocate against real problems in society, (homicide, sexual assault, etc.) you have to focus on these issues and know what they mean, who stands behind them, and consequently prove their fundamental flaws.
Most of the time, a societal norm isn't simply right or wrong.
Enthusiastic social warriors try to take on every new norm as if it's an invasion. New norms aren't always bad—in fact, most of the time, they're great. New norms that are intrusive, unconventional (in doctrine), and repulsive to a whole society are bad.
Our approach to social norms should not be according to their seniority. There are many social norms that are disgusting and appalling, appropriated decades ago (for some reason). On the other hand, a lot of new norms are actually good—they benefit society and prompt prosperity. We should approach norms by what they provide.
2) Technical obstacles
The thing about most of our social problems is that they pertain to the state. Think about it. Ending homelessness shouldn't be our problem per se. Sure, we have an obligation, but we aren't capable of finding real solutions to this problem. We, as individuals or as a society, cannot end homicide or robbery with real action. We cannot end hate crimes or racist incidents.
Problems like these are within the jurisdiction of the state. The government. When you're a sole fighter trying to amass voices and amplify a trend against a certain topic that is not within our jurisdiction as civilians, it's hard to move from ideation to tangible implementation.
These are technical problems that are both easy and difficult to overcome. On the one hand, the government is an entity whose very purpose of serving us, the people. If the government isn't preventing a harmful norm (racism, discrimination, homicide, rape), then what's it for then?
There is a reason why governments do not last. A four-year term is a true test to its capabilities, to its agendas. When the norm is endorsed by the state against the will of the people, that's an easy fix—vote them out. However, technical obstacles are only a speck of the problem when the norm is deeply entrenched in the society itself (so much so that the people don't even want it changed), then there's work to do.
While we can't do much (alone) to influence the government, what we can do instead is to educate, inform, and prepare society for a better future, so that we make the only obstacle between us and a better society is the government alone.
3) Misunderstood Implementation
People often misunderstand and misuse the methods and strategies with which they are to implement these ideas to change society.
While it's true that changing society is a war—a full-fledged war—ideas can be translated into action in numerous ways, not just one. Writing is one of them. Educating people around you is the most effective way you can make an impact. Tweeting about a topic can be considered implementation. Creating YouTube videos, writing books, talking on podcasts, or conducting interviews are all methods that can bring forth the desired change.
Just by informing people on topics that matter, you prompt more ideas to surface, more voices to echo, and, consequently, enabling the translation of these ideas into action.
Fighting to change society shouldn't be actively aggressive. Nor should it be destructive. Small steps are fine, so long as they are consistent and passionate. Change does not happen overnight, and for us to see real change in the social landscape, we have to work harder.
But most importantly, more people should join the war.