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Evolution or revolution

Evolution: the slow change of things to adapt to new circumstances that no longer support healthy survival.

Revolution: the overturning of circumstances that cannot be tolerated. This is usually rapid and usually leads to a period of chaos as a new structure is put in place ... often quite unpredictable and violent.

When we are confronted with events that seem clearly wrong, unjust, unfair or unsupportive of positive human development, our first instinct is for rapid change. However, no matter how emotionally satisfying that might appear to be, it is usually not viable in a complex world with all kinds of countervailing forces.

We can resort to violence and try to impose a solution by totally reforming the structure of things or simply impose solutions by force.

Most of us, who have lived in the world and see how it tends to work, know that evolution is often a better approach. However, it takes patience and persistence and may seem, at times, as though it is making no difference at all.

It is a kind of gradual movement toward a better world, built on the backs of millions of tiny actions and deeds by ordinary people. However, as these actions and deeds accumulate and are sustained they become inevitable and overwhelming.

It is like the millions of drops of water in the ocean gradually eroding the seaside cliffs in California which eventually take the houses the 1 percent built on them.

The secret is to convince people that their small everyday actions, their speaking out, their resistance to injustice, inequality and unfairness are part of a growing movement that will eventually succeed.

The threat is cynicism and despair. If the ordinary people can be convinced that they are powerless against the powers behind the status quo, and if they think they must capitulate and give over control of their lives to survive, then evolution is stopped in its tracks.

No people can continue very long in those circumstances since it requires a denial of their basic human self-worth and no cultures are capable of tolerating that for very long.

At that point, revolution appears to be the only solution and it will be bloody and violent and may or may not change into a more human situation. It is like a dam breaking and reshaping the environment below the dam. No one can predict the outcome.

My hope is that the American people understand the power of evolutionary movements that can reshape our situation and bring America back to its democratic roots through the powerful, continuous and inspired work of millions of ordinary citizens working toward a healthy society with the accumulation of their small, but focused, deeds and actions moving in the same direction and becoming an inevitable and overwhelming force.

BOB PASSI is retired and is a resident of Baxter.