Systems change does not absolve you of responsibility

We’re systems change people but there is a trend popping up absolving us all of individual action and responsibility and that’s not right. We ARE part of the system. Our choices DO matter. While we’re focussed on the choices with the biggest impact (and above anything else, get involved locally and vote), there are literally millions of people who know better, have access, can do better, and choose not to. That’s a massive problem in the system.

Climate change has many actors we can blame. An often recited stat is that 100 companies are responsible for 70% of our emissions. True and these companies are largely terrible, have spun stories for decades, ignored science and do everything possible for profit and greed. Unfortunately however, we share a love of that greed as individuals in high-income countries and cities. We are a large part of creating that demand and voting for it. And climate change isn’t our only problem.

The primary driver of biodiversity loss is human impact. Many of us are choosing to eat unsustainably, consume more than ever, and buy big houses on cleared land filled with stuff.

Racism is a systemic issue. It needs law overhauls & structural change. But it also needs cultural change (mostly for white people). It needs us to be anti-racist every day. White people benefit from racism; we need to take action to ensure we don’t.

Sexism is also a systemic issue. It also needs many new policies and laws; everything from the office to how women choose to occupy spaces. Sexism is addressed when people call it out. Sexism is exacerbated when we, as individuals, participate in it.

We’re not solely responsible and so much in the system encourages these actions or doesn’t allow for another way. Capitalism often locks us in. A lot of our problems are wicked problems. Even the simplest things seem hard to resolve and it can be incredibly difficult to work out where the origin and demand points stem from – and even who benefits most and how you measure that. We need top down action and structural changes but we also need to do the individual work (and we can be incentivized to do so by governments where we choose not to, or can’t).