How Do You Create Lasting Social Change?

People involved in social justice movements always want to know the answer to this Big Question: How do we get x (them) to change their ways and become y (like us)?

x = meat-eaters; y = vegan
x = Republicans; y = Democrats
x = war mongers; y = tree huggers

...and etc.

I've been involved with many social justice movements and have always wondered if what I'm doing is making a difference. Or rather, is it even possible to "make a difference?"

So many things are wrong with the city, the country and the world that's it's easy to be overwhelmed with all the injustices and sob stories. I can buy organic food, I can be vegan, I can buy fair-trade, I can bike instead of drive. But is this the change I'm looking for?

What is the best way to create a lasting social change? Many people want universal health care in the US but how do we get it? By holding signs and surrounding ourselves with people that agree with us? Writing letters? It all seems so trivial for such a big issue. Many people want to stop factory farming... stop the war... stop the presses... but how is it done?

Obviously, I don't know so I'm asking for ideas.


I think about these kinds of things when I nurse Milo to sleep. It's dark and I have nothing to do but lie there and think. In college people seemed to have all the answers. Yes to this. No to that.

Basically I'm wondering how to best affect the world. There are many political people who are what I call "anti-kid." They are so wrapped up in being more socially-conscious than other people that they denounce anyone who breeds (kids waste resources and overpopulate the earth). There was a time when I didn't want kids because of the population issue. Then I got pregnant. But now I see that I'm raising a kid in a radical way and even though he's entitled to his own opinion, he's going to be shaped by two vegan, political parents. And he is the next generation.

I really think many social justice advocates need to re-evaulate their stance on having kids. Maybe all we can do for the world is to rear the next generation as we wished we'd been raised.


  1. There is a big difference between being responsible parents and loving your child enough to teach them strong moral values, how to make their way in the world, right from wrong than just popping out babies because of the "be fruitful and multiply" dogma!

  2. Definitely.

    This post may have been confusing. I was trying to connect two thoughts that were going through my mind: 1) How do you create real social change? 2) I wish more progressive people were into raising kids. Sometimes I get the impression that you shouldn't be progressive and have children (there are those "more liberal than thou" people who think they're better for not breeding). Yet, progressive people must take it upon themselves to spread their ideals to the next generation. Don't let only the stupid people raise children.

    After I wrote the post I realized it sounded like a self-fulfilling prophecy (ie having kids equals social change so I'm doing the max to achieve social change) yet I didn't mean it that way. I'm not trying to defend people who pop out kids. I just think rather than belittle those allies who have children, progressive people need to see this as a good thing.

    I've seen liberal people link having children to some really mean, negative things and I thought it was very stereotypical and arrogant. I'll post more on this later. I realize it's confusing.