How to make change

I think that, in order to institute change, we must adopt a bottom-up mentality. Just as every building needs a foundation, every movement needs a founder, an individual.

In other words, if you want to change the world, start with yourself. Then move outward and upward to your home, your workplace, your community, and so on.

As I understand it, here are the levels through which change must move upward and outward. When someone tries to skip one of these levels and institute change from the top down, it has historically resulted in catastrophe.

This isn't a new idea.

1. Personal, individual: This level of being, of agency, and of dignity. You are only able to experience reality from this vantage point, so, if you want your reality to change, you'll produce maximum effect and face minimum opposition by starting here.

2. Interpersonal, relational: This is the level of communication. When you communicate an idea, at the heart of it, there is only you (the communicator) and he or she the listener.

Whether you're speaking with one friend or an audience of thousands, there is still only communicator and listener (we don't often rely on another for hearing, except in the case of translation).

Therefore, again, to maximize change and minimize opposition, think and speak in terms of individual to individual. It only inflates your ego if you think, "I'm responsible to address the masses."

3. Familial: This is the level of deep love and of care. It's the level of tribe. If you aren't loving and caring for your friends and your family, why should you be trusted to oversee anything on a larger scale? Get your house in order before you go trying to affect mine.

This is also the level at which we teach our principles to our children. Want the next generation to have adopted your proposed changes? Have kids, teach them.

4. Organizational: This is the level of work beyond one man or woman’s abilities. Some things, you can't do on your own. After instituting change in your own life, in your relationships, and among your tribe, you'll need to recruit change-makers and cast a vision for them to move forward.

And because you can't do it all on your own, you're going to have to give your recruits license, trust them, and stay out of their way as they carry your vision. Otherwise, what good are they?

5. Local, regional: This is the level of neighborliness and community. You can't change a nation without changing a region first. It is from this place that policy-makers arise.

6. National political: The level of policy, but also of unity, patriotism, and zeitgeist. Once a change is adopted here, it's hard to undo that change. This is the level of laws which are more often upheld than struck down, and the level of national pride for deeply meaningful cultural ideas.

There are few images more powerful than a nation's flag still flying after the dust of war settles. If you want to move on to make global change, you've got to win culture-wars as well as a few war-wars.

7. Global political: This is the level of accord, treaty, and trade. If you want an idea to go global, you'll need a convention of nations to adopt the idea. This is difficult. If an idea isn't strong or well-defended, a previously united nation might break ranks and do its own thing.

8. Archetypal, proverbial, philosophical: This is the level of religion, truth, well-understood virtues, heroic narratives, and maybe the conscience—I'm undecided on whether to put the conscience here or at the level of individual.

Is good something instilled in every man, or was it given to us by change-makers in religious and philosophical arenas, like Jesus?

If you want to effect change, start with yourself. Clean up your room. Stand up straight. Do one thing everyday that sucks. Start small: What's one thing you can do right now, to make yourself feel even one-tenth of one percent better about life?

Then move upward, onward, and outward. Change doesn't happen overnight, not even in political revolutions. You have to live your beliefs, communicate well with other individuals, teach your principles to your children, form organizations, find policy-makers, and make policies.

And then, I guess, assume steps 7 and 8 are totally out of your control. Because they are. Convincing the world, and making the idea a proverb—that seldom occurs in one change-maker's lifetime.

Note: These ideas are heavily influenced by a book I read two months ago called 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson. I highly recommend it as a must-read.