Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained

The True Meaning of Democracy

Reading Room: Chapter 22 Summary

Empowerment and the Process of Change

“… celestial light,
Shine inward, and the mind, through all her powers,
Irradiate; there plant eyes, all mist from thence
Purge and disperse, that I may see and tell
Of things invisible to mortal sight …”

In our films and fiction and TV, we seem to be fascinated by transcending time and space, exploring new worlds in our imagination, conceiving of super-real forces which invade the world we know in ways which are mystifying and terrifying. There is a compelling interest in other-worldliness and the implicit belief that somewhere there is a thread tying us to these fantastic forces. Eventually the unthinkable will occur.

The fanciful speculation we allow ourselves via our cultural experiences is in sharp contrast to the perspective we apply to our government and political life. Here the assumption is that things will go on for ever, just as they are, an assumption that reflects not so much conviction as it does a very intense wish that things stay the same.

We are living in a man-made world and yet treat it as if it were an alien force beyond our ken or control. We are consciously hoping for the best, while subconsciously waiting for the worst. We fail to realize that our way of understanding and thinking about the world determine the degree to which we are helpless victims of circumstances or masters of our destiny.

Too often when we think of change, we think of cyclical change, the rising and the setting of the sun, the change in the seasons. Transformative change is something different. It is non-repetitive and irreversible. It represents the development of something new, emerging from the flow of past events and movements, extending itself into an indeterminate future with consequences, not all of which can be foreseen. It has direction.