Brokenhearted Theology, Contemp Culture, Global, Green, politics, Ramblings

How does change happen? Is “my part” enough?

Thomas Friedman’s Op-Ed a few days ago in the NY Times made mention of this letter to the editor, published June 8 in South Carolina’s Beaufort Gazette.

I’d like to join the blame game that has come to define our national approach to the ongoing environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

This isn’t the fault of BP or Transocean. It’s not the government’s fault. It’s my fault. I’m the one to blame and I’m sorry.

It’s my fault because I haven’t digested the world’s in-your-face hints that maybe I ought to think about the future and change the unsustainable way I live my life.

If the geopolitical, economic, and technological shifts of the 1990s didn’t do it; if the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, didn’t do it; if the current economic crisis didn’t do it; perhaps this oil spill will be the catalyst for me, as a citizen, to wean myself off of my petroleum-based lifestyle.

“Citizen” is the key word. It’s what we do as individuals that counts.

For those on the left, government regulation will not solve this problem. Government’s role should be to create an environment of opportunity that taps into the innovation and entrepreneurialism that define us as Americans.

For those on the right, if you want less government and taxes, then decide what you’ll give up and what you’ll contribute.

Here’s the bottom line: If we want to end our oil addiction, we, as citizens, need to pony up — bike to work, plant a garden, do something.

The oil spill is my fault. I’m sorry. I haven’t done my part. Now I have to convince my wife to give up her SUV.

Mark Mykleby


I agree with Mykleby, that it is “our” fault that something like the current oil spill in the Gulf (a) happened and (b) a company like BP was not prepared to deal this kind of incident.

What I wonder is if doing “my part” can actually solve any of the world crises we currently face.  I wonder this on a practical/everyday level with the energy situation we face, our dependence on oil, etc…and also on a bigger philosophical/ethical/theological level – can one person doing “their part” make a difference?

On some level, I hope so. And I try to do “my part,” in small ways and big.

On another level, I wonder if this is just another part of our overly indulged individualism manifesting itself in a desire to single-handedly right the world’s wrongs.

What do you think?  How does change actually happen?  Can I do my part in such a way that it actually matters, or does it take a we to make any kind of substantial change?  Or does it take something bigger – something other than us – to make any kind of substantial change (that other could be some kind of deity, some kind of ‘tipping point’ disaster, etc.)?


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