Evolutionary Activism: Creating Substantive Social Change

How do we go about creating the world we wish to have? No doubt this is one of those questions where, were you to ask one hundred people you would get one hundred different answers.

One approach to social change that is gaining momentum is something called ‘evolutionary activism.’ But what is it?

Intentionally Shaping How the Human Story Continues to Unfold

While it’s difficult to answer this succinctly, the term ‘evolutionary activism’ points to a worldview that recognizes humans are conscious creators of how the human story unfolds.

Tom Atlee, author of a book titled Reflections on Evolutionary Activism (free download) writes:

I see evolutionary activism as social change work:

a. Inspired by the story of evolution and the fact that we are the process of evolution becoming conscious of itself;
b. Guided in its rationale, strategies, and tactics by evolutionary dynamics rather than any other political ideology or agenda; and
c. Focused on altering the causal stories, structures and systems of society—the social DNA—so that society develops and reproduces in more healthy ways, moving beyond patterns that have proven unsustainable toward patterns that serve life more broadly and deeply.

Evolutionary activism recognizes we have agency, and can use this agency to catalyze changes that address the roots of social problems, going beyond band-aids and quick-fixes, to create substantively more robust and positive social changes.

Strength and Possibility in Numbers

Bearing in mind that social change occurs when people band together to push for the changes they wish to see, how would a movement driven by evolutionary activists behave? Atlee states, “A conscious evolutionary activist movement would choose to play an active part in evolution, helping humanity (and itself) move consciously towards evolutionary fitness and elegantly functional self-organized complexity.”

This is a fancy way of saying that evolutionary activists would focus on creating a healthy, sane, dynamic and sustainable society that functions much the way a thriving ecosystem does.  Bill Twist, co-founder and Executive Director of The Pachamama Alliance, referencing the late ecotheologian Thomas Berry states, “Thomas Berry says that the great work that we are facing at this time of evolution is for our species to make the transition from being a destructive presence on the planet to a mutually enhancing human-earth relationship.

Additionally, Twist states, “…to really engage with the questions of creating a mutually-enhancing human-earth relationship, it is going to require tremendous boldness, tremendous brashness, tremendous commitment to get at the core of what needs to be engaged with.”

It will also require tremendous honesty – an honest looking at our lives, communities, societies, and state of the planet now, and what we will do to influence the inevitable continued unfolding of life.

Change is guaranteed. How do we want to influence it?

Showing Up
We are the world showing up as a body.
We are universal consciousness showing up as one mind.
We are everything showing up as one thing.
We are the essence of humanity showing up as diverse people.
We are interconnectedness itself showing up as separate selves.
We are every generation showing up as our generation.
We are aliveness showing up as alive.
We are the end showing up as the beginning
and the beginning as the end
and the story as it writes Itself…

-From Tom Atlee’s Reflections on Evolutionary Activism

Learn more about evolutionary activism, and how you can help co-create a thriving, just, and sustainable world by taking our Game Changer Intensive, a seven-week online course.

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