I just watched this video on a non-politician running to be Mayor of San Francisco. It seems crazy: why would someone who doesn’t even think he’ll win, or maybe even want to win, run for political office? If you run for office, your goal is to win, right? That would be success, right?
Well, I’m not so sure. As Stuart points out in the video, his intention is to bring awareness to topics such as rampant homelessness and income inequality in what is supposedly a very progressive city. He wants people to start talking about it. He wants his opponent to start talking about it and hopefully start doing something about it because that guy’s constituents will be, hopefully, be asking for some real action to take place.
Have you ever played Human Knot? It’s a game that is used in team-building activities, mostly for school-age children. Everyone stands in a circle and puts their hands into the middle, taking the hands of two different people from different parts of the circle. Entanglement and fun ensues as the group attempts to de-tangle themselves and become a nice little circle again. Occasionally, the group does not succeed at this endeavor and some segments of the group remain somewhat knotted up – though there’s always been at least some progress. Anyway, sometimes this is disappointing to the kids (or grownups) until we ask them questions like “Did you have fun?” “What worked and what didn’t?” “What did you learn?” I actually prefer when we don’t completely untangle ourselves because then the satisfaction of “winning” the game doesn’t distract from the more meaningful successes of learning how to cooperate, becoming more aware of personal leadership abilities, bonding with others, and having fun in spite of not meeting the goal.
Meeting a goal is not always so black and white. Sometimes simply making progress and putting energy toward issues that are decaying in the gridlock of debate is success.
I think of Occupy Wall Street. I’ve heard many people say that OWS was a failure because no real change was made. But, as I’ve heard Russell Brand point out, the fact that the term “the 99%” is a thing is a HUGE success. Occupy Wall Street brought income inequality into the consciousness of the entire world. Awareness is the first step toward treating any problem. Russell Brand also points out that we don’t always have to know the answer to proceed. Sometimes, any movement toward solving a problem is enough. Take the debate about climate change, for example. The data tells us that if we keep doing what we’re doing, humans are going to die out on this planet due to extreme weather, declining air quality, and much more. It’s like the planet is a baby in a carriage in the middle of a highway. Climate change is the semi that’s careening down the road, straight toward that baby. People, namely our politicians, are standing on either side of the highway arguing about the best way to save the baby and whose fault is it that the baby is in the road in the first place and who’s going to take care of the baby if and when it’s saved.
Meanwhile, that truck is getting closer and closer…
Someone, anyone, has to do something, anything! Just do it… We can’t keep waiting for Superman to fly in or a politician who’s going to change the system (not going to happen anytime soon…) or the Rapture to come (which it seems we’ve been waiting for for about 2000 years now).
It starts with you.