In the current turmoil brought about by Brexit and Trump it is so easy to think that we need to do something, to take action, to do something grand, to join a movement, to wave banners. But if we see the world as dominated by grand things, big things, things that we have no control over, then we either go numb and feel powerless, or we overreact and provoke a counter-reaction.
But neither Brexit nor Trump happened because of big or grand things, they happened because of the combination of a lot of small things. Conversations that weren’t had, daft ideas that weren’t discussed, unpleasant attitudes that weren’t questioned, power that was deferred to rather than challenged that incrementally got out of hand.
It is only ever the small things that we have any influence over. We need to make sure that we exercise that influence. If we hear someone trashing immigrants, or being nostalgic for an “old days” that never existed, have a conversation with them, or for that matter failing to question the power in Brussels, ask them why they feel that way. Instead of building opposition movements, which just exacerbate the polarity and divisiveness, have lots of brave conversations, all the time, with everyone you meet.
In some ways getting busy with initiatives is easier than having those conversations. It’s a bit like at work. Kicking off a grand change programme (ideally involving considerable spend on technology) is easier than facing the existential challenge of behaving differently, of relating to people differently.
It is in our relationships that our real power to change our world lies. We should spend more time focussing on that than on displacement activities.