How to Change the World, Starting Now

If you want to change the world, like really want to do something, I have the answer:

Don’t build that fence.

You don’t need to pool all your resources together and start a foundation, either.

We don’t need your big ideas. We have enough of those.

Just go stand next to someone you don’t know.

You don’t have to talk. In fact, it’s better if you don’t.

Talk only to keep them talking. It’s not as hard as you think.

My mom used to drive us 20 minutes to go to church. We had churches in our hometown but she wanted to take us to New Haven, because that’s where the black people were.

And she wanted to take us to the Kids Museum because that’s where the poor people were.

And she would always walk us up to people with obvious disabilities so we could talk with them.

All of this was extremely uncomfortable. My friends were miles away from these places.

I never got it then, but I get it now.

Proximity is a better teacher than textbooks, better than the great lectures extolled from within the fence line.

I really believe that the animosity between warring leaders would dissipate if they were left in a room together, without weapons. Perhaps we’d have to shackle them first (hands can be weapons, too.).

But if they sat on the same hard floor, under the same wicked lights, away from their allies and echo chambers for long enough, they might do that thing that is so hard for all of us:

Put aside what we think we know as fact, and let something new in, something as uncomfortable as a pill without water, as a pebble in our shoe.

Both are more powerful than a bomb.

Suicide, war, gang violence, mass shootings, domestic abuse, hate crime, genocide. It’s easier to shoot people than it is to talk to them.

But I guess it’s even harder to listen.