True Responsibility And The Need For Change – OpEd


With every passing day the fissures in the world appear to deepen, the inadequacy of existing systems and institutions becomes more apparent; the cries for change intensify. Market Fundamentalism dominates virtually all areas of contemporary life; – a poisonous Ideology of Greed and Division that is fuelling a range of crises, all of which feed off of each other, flow from a common root, and are global in scale:

1. Climate change and the environmental emergency tops the chart. It is the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced. Created and perpetuated by a relatively small section of humanity, it impacts everyone, everywhere; with those least responsible for the catastrophe suffering the effects most severely, and the major culprits, selfish and irresponsible, doing little or nothing in response – either to halt the process of destruction or mitigate the effects.

2. Poverty and starvation (in a world of plenty, no less). Almost a billion people are living in ‘extreme’ poverty, (defined as $2.15 a day or less), and around half the world’s population survive on less than $5.50 a day. That’s not spending money, that’s total income ($165 pcm average) to cover all expenses.

3. Over 100 million people are displaced (homeless, destitute, wandering), an unprecedented number. Driven from their homes by war, persecution and instability; astonishingly, this figure does not include those on the move due to economic hardship.

4. Armed conflict/war/terrorism and the threat of nuclear destruction. Currently there are thought to be 32 countries engaged in violent conflict of one kind or another.

We could go on: Social injustice, economic/political inequality, discrimination and human rights abuse of all kinds, for example, but these are, we can probably agree, the big four. Issues that broadly represent the most significant, pressing concerns of the age, impacting people in every corner of the world, rich, poor or somewhere in between; young or old, some more – the most vulnerable, marginalized, some less – the most privileged. And all are interconnected.

In response to these immense challenges humanity appears largely dumbfounded, lost, bereft of solutions. The so-called ‘leaders’, the politicians of the day, awash with ambition and self-interest are totally inadequate to the task. Incompetent and compromised by their indebtedness to big business, their blind adherence to ideology and complete lack of vision, not only do they consistently fail to address the issues of the day, but, operating from a corrupted stand-point, all too often far from improving things, their attempts intensify the crises.

Underlying source of the mess

This interwoven network of demands stems from a single fractured source – the consciousness of humanity, articulated and expressed most powerfully and most influentially by the dominant voices of the time. A consciousness, the content of which – the conclusions, ideologies, opinions, beliefs etc., – has resulted in a particular view of life, a certain approach to living and the formulation of a specific type of society, or societies.

It is a misguided materialistic view that believes in separation and has articulated a set of largely false values, based on this fundamental error. The assertion that human beings are separate, from one another, from the natural world, and from that underlying reality or Impelling Life, to which we give the inadequate spurious name, God. Modes of life, global systems and collective values have emerged from this centre of ignorance.

The fruits of this perverse pattern are all around us. In all areas of life, individually and collectively, separation and conflict, selfishness and greed characterize modes of living and systems of governance. From economic, social and political inequality to religious intolerance, poverty and environmental injustice to terrorism and war. The world, as devised by mankind, is deeply divided, cruel and in many ways, dysfunctional.

As the most powerful global forces, governments and corporations are chiefly responsible and the major problem. But politicians and corporate leaders are, like the rest of us, a product of the society we have collectively created or allowed to take shape. Society is not something separate from the individuals within it, society is a reflection or effect, we are the cause.

Therefore, whilst power may rest with the few, responsibility lies with all of us. Responsibility for one another, for the natural world; responsibility to create peace, responsibility to live a harmless life rooted in principles of goodness — sharing, cooperation, tolerance and understanding. So, if there is to be change, ‘in the world’, in society, then we, the men women and children that constitute the society need to change.

An essential element in any such development is the acknowledgment and acceptance of social/environmental responsibility. What we might call ‘True Responsibility’ – responsibility based on the realization that humanity is one, that all is interconnected, within the world, the solar system and beyond. There is no such thing as separation, it is, as The Wise teach, “The Great Illusion”. Responsibility rooted in loves, brotherhood and unity.

The measure for your actions

Recognizing that we are all responsible is an empowering step. When we reject all behavior that is harmful and divisive, prejudicial and selfish and act for the collective good, not only do we liberate ourselves, we add our energy to the ‘forces of light’ in the world and become an agent of collective change.

That the world is crying out for change in the socio-economic-political spheres is undeniable; that there is powerful resistance to such change, from reactionary and fearful forces, is also clear. Fundamental and lasting change, based on altogether different values to the false values that currently dominate.

There is, throughout the world an increasingly defined split in approach: On the one hand there are the conservative forces, which are resistant to change and seek to maintain the existing dysfunctional modes of living. A washed up model marred by suffering and hardship, cruelty and hate; devoid of vitality, but persistent and dangerous. This inhibiting force stands in opposition to the progressive forces in the world. Those many millions, the majority probably of any population anywhere, who long for change and a new gentler civilisation, characterised by inclusive values of sharing, social justice, freedom and cooperation.

It is a clash of values: The false hollow values of the past, in contrast to perennial values of goodness, ideals held for centuries but not widely expressed.

Change is essential if we are to survive, systemic/institutional change flowing from individual change and a shift in attitudes. All is interconnected, this is a fundamental truth that we need to recognize. A fact that once grasped ignites ‘True Responsibility’ and fuels what we might call ‘Right Action’. Unselfish action impelled by a sense of connection, and responsibility for the other; as The Teacher Maitreya put it, “Take your brothers need as the measure for your actions and solve the problems of the World”.

Actions, large and small, grounded in this Place of Goodness are the source of true hope for humanity; hope that despite the obstacles, the cruelty and the headlines of despair, change is coming and The Good will prevail.

Graham Peebles

Graham Peebles is an independent writer and charity worker. He set up The Create Trust in 2005 and has run education projects in India, Sri Lanka and Ethiopia where he lived for two years working with acutely disadvantaged children and conducting teacher training programmes. Website:

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