‘Be the Change’ – Really?

For quite some time, the famous quote by Mahatma Ghandi, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world,” has been the unofficial mantra of the green ‘movement’.  Even I, several years ago, before starting aka green, found this quote to be very poignant.  And I got it.  You can’t expect the world to change if you yourself can’t make that change.  It becomes a cry against hypocrisy.  You can apply this to any set of values that you claim to have.  If you want others to stop eating red meat, then you should too.  If you want others to start recycling, then you should too.  But for several years now, i have begun to question whether or not this is the best quote to represent what the green movement is all about.

It stems from the word Change… be the Change.  Change itself implies that we need to be different or that there needs to be some deep transformation in who we are to make it happen.  The reality is, i think it is less about Change and more about Choice.  Choice implies that there are clear options to select from and that we know the impacts of those choices.  You choose to wake up each day and not commit a crime.  You choose every day not to do drugs.  You don’t need to change to keep from doing these things.  Change implies that we don’t understand and Choice implies that we do.  I believe that we as a society already know the type of world that we wish to live in and it is less about change and more about making the choice to live in that world and to choose to make decisions that support your choice.

I have had the opportunity to ask several groups the following questions…

  1. How many of you would like to know that the air we breath outside is safe and doesn’t contain harmful chemicals or pollutants?
  2. How many of you, without sacrificing performance or looks, would like know that the car they drive gets over 100 miles per gallon?
  3. How many of you would like to know that the products you bring into your home won’t contribute to health impacts for you or your children?
  4. How many people want to know that the chocolate they are eating wasn’t picked by an abused child in another country?
  5. How many people want to know that our water is clean and abundant and doesn’t contain harmful chemicals?
  6. How many people want to know that the food we eat doesn’t contain pesticides?

This list can go on and on to include any number of questions.  And i can tell you that in all the times i have asked these questions, not a single person has said no.  It has become abundantly clear that we all understand the type of world we want for us, our family and for society.  Nobody wants their picture on the milk jug.  We already know right from wrong.  We don’t need to change to understand this.  What we need to do is start making choices that support those things that we already fundamentally believe to be true.


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