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Paul Hawken on The Movement

At the beginning of his book Blessed Unrest, Paul Hawken talks about a “coalescence of hundreds of thousands of organizations” across the planet. It’s worth sharing at length his remarkable description:

It claims no special powers and arises in small discrete ways, like blades of grass after a rain. This movement grows and spreads in every city and country, and involves virtually every tribe, culture, language, and religion, from Mongolians to Uzbeks to Tamils. It is composed of families in India, students in Australia, farmers in France, the landless in Brazil, the Bananeras of Honduras, the “poors” of Durban, villagers in Iraian Jaya, indigenous tribes of Bolivia, and housewives in Japan. Its leaders are farmers, zoologists, shoemakers, and poets. It provides support and meaning to billions of people in the world.

The movement can’t be divided because it is so atomized — a collection of small pieces, loosely joined. It forms, dissipates, and then regathers quickly, without central leadership, command, or control. Rather than seeking dominance, this unnamed movement strives to disperse concentrations of power. It has been capable of bringing down governments, companies, and leaders though witnessing, informing, and massing. The quickening of the movement in recent years has come about through information technologies becoming increasingly accessible and affordable to people everywhere. Its clout resides in its ideas, not in force.

Picture the collective presence of all human beings as an organism. Pervading that organism are intelligent activities, humanity’s immune response to resist and heal the effects of political corruption, economic disease, and ecological degradation, whether they are the result of free-market, religious, or political ideologies. In a world grown too complex for constrictive ideologies, eve the very word movement to describe such a process may be limiting. Writer and activist Naomi Klein calls it “the movement of movements,” but for lack of a better term I will stick with movement here because I believe all its components are beginning to converge.

The movement has three basic roots: environmental activism, social justice initiatives, and indigenous cultures’ resistance to globalization, all of which have become intertwined. Collectively, it expresses the needs of the majority of people on earth to sustain the environment, wage peace, democratize decision making and policy, reinvent public governance piece by piece form the bottom up, and improve their lives — women, children, and the poor. Throughout history, armies, corporations, religious rulers and political zealots have overpowered the majority world, which in our upside-down world we consider to be the minorities.

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One Response to Paul Hawken on The Movement

  1. Camilla Burg June 27, 2013 at 3:07 am #

    Thank you Tom for sharing this. This is organism is alive. It is the WiserEarth community who are building a global village through…You, we, all of us are this movement! This is where inspiration has an incredible role to play, when we can see all of the incredible work happening around the world, and we want to do our part.

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