Let’s imagine that you discover the largest contributor to soil and air pollution by a factor of 10 was actually tire wear shedding microrubber into the surrounding air and leeching into the ground. Society would need that to change. But how do you do it?
This example is quite useful for the fact that it’s important that it changes, could have massive impact on sustaining our environment and improving the overall health of the people affected. But solving this issue could probably take your entire life and still only succeed in moving the needle a fraction of what’s necessary. You would be going up against tire manufacturers to produce, possibly lesser quality tires that shed less or have less improved traction leading in actuality to more deaths due to lesser quality tires.
But wait, other solutions could include rezoning various areas, and reducing the need for vehicles in the first place, and improving public transit. Now you’re not just going against tire manufacturers, you’re also fighting to reverse the tide of public opinion, at least in America, of public transport bad, independence and cars good. You’ve gone from, tire shed hurting our world and our children to fighting against the entire transport, oil, and auto industry.
The fact remains the fight must be fought. But by how many? Only you? There are so many other things to think about it would seem. Silence is violence people say. You’re not doing enough activism folks will say. There are other more important things that need your attention RIGHT NOW! Twitter and other social media would have you always believe you’re not doing enough if you’re not outraged by the most recent injustice. And the most recent injustice is probably incredibly awful and quite worthy of attention. But there’s the rub. Every thing cannot be worthy of attention all of the time even if it probably should be. The truth is societal change comes from people working in the background long and hard on things that might not impact you for 20 years if ever in your lifetime.
Collectively humanity has to work in disjointed bubbles by people that care about their corner of humanity and that is exactly how the world moves forward. Each person who cares, one person making a difference in their time. Lobbying your local city council to turn an old empty high school lot into a park, volunteering at your local food bank, getting parts of your town rezoned to reduce the need for vehicle traffic, and being active in your area of expertise in the world to be better is how one person makes a difference.
We are part of a whole and it is damaging for anyone to think one person doesn’t make a difference. Your difference is made among the effort of many. Take an active role in improving your local community and your field. It is worth its weight in gold more than all the social media grandstanding you could ever see.