How can we change a culture of violence and horror and meaninglessness into a culture of freedom and protection and purpose? How are we protecting our children?
I wrote yesterday about employing our spiritual imaginations and envisioning a future in which little children have no reason to fear shooters in the hallways of their schools. It can be numbingly hard to believe that such a future is possible. But changes of this magnitude have happened throughout human history. The abolition of slavery once seemed an impossible ideal in the face of what some called a “necessary evil.” All sorts of rights—the right to education for disabled people, the right to vote for women, the right to marriage for gay women and men—all of these and more once seemed impossible, hopeless causes. But change is possible.
In contemplating the way culture changes, I’ve been reminded of sociologist James Hunter’s book To Change the World. Hunter identifies four factors that contribute to cultural change:
Change happens through both critical and creative engagement.
We need to critique the reasons we are in this place of violence and hopelessness and then turn toward creative and innovative ways to address those trends. As I wrote yesterday, we need to imagine a world in which there are no school shootings and work towards that vision.
Change happens on an institutional level.
We need individuals with influence within their political parties and legislative chambers to envision laws on a national, state, and local level that will reduce the proliferation of guns, restrict ownership of the weapons of war like the semi-automatic rifles used on Monday, and keep guns out of the hands of people who will use them for this type of harm.
Change happens through networks.
Individuals who connect to one another can together create the conditions for legislative and programmatic change. Individuals do not change the world. Connected and like-minded, like-hearted individuals who influence their institutions change the world.
It does not need to go on this way. We each have one small part to play in a larger work that leads us toward a better future.
More with Amy Julia:
- Another School Shooting: Is There Light in the Darkness?
- How Can We Respond to All the Injustice and Suffering?
- Imagining a World Without School Shootings
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