How do we start talking about Australian changemakers in a world that is in a permanent state of flux?
There’s a lot to be cynical about. There is always something that isn’t quite hitting the mark. It’s not perfect enough to really speak for everyone. There’s bias, naivety and a whole slew of things to navigate in making change these days.
Apathy reigns supreme.
There are a lot of people out there who still believe “if it aint broke, don’t fix it”.
Primarily because from their perspective, it isn’t broke. Or not broken enough compared to the five hundred other things they need to contend with. Or the breakages benefit in stoking rage, division and fires.
Division has been weaponised. We’re all leftie loonies or right wing nutjobs. Everyone can agree the other side is clearly destroying things. We’re all lining up behind teams and feeling very proud.
Until we don’t feel proud.
And then we point at that branch, take a few steps to maintain distance and say that’s an unrepresentative fringe dweller of some description. A lone wolf, a solitary actor. We’re all in this together – that is, until we’re lost to a sea of people who clearly don’t know what they are doing.
The intersection with these attitudes is pervasive.
Social media, media in general and the interconnected nature of the world in which we live means there is a continuous chain of things to be frustrated with. And yes, people benefit from this frustration and anger. It certainly makes us easier to manipulate politically and to fire up the desire to buy things we don’t really need.
And there are a lot of legacy items that we are stuck with. Internalised capitalism means people are still choosing to replicate the whole patriarchal measurement of success – money, power, image, and entourage.
Even though we know it perpetuates rankism, exclusion, and disparity. And that as Australian changemakers, it is these problems we’re often attempting to change.
It’s depressing being Australian changemakers when there is so much change to make.
No matter what you do, you risk being too singular, too privileged, too naïve or too lacking in some other area in someone else’s eyes. Cynicism is a major problem in Australia. And it unfortunately defines not only how we report on and talk about change, but how we critique changemakers overall.
There is always someone who won’t read the article. Or who will assume you using your hard-won insight into causes, traumas and the problem you’re changing is about you chasing money, fame and the spotlight.
Someone somewhere will be available to tell you, “Hey, you missed a spot!”
And that can really hurt when you’ve spent days, weeks, months and even years trying to cover all the bases you can.
Being a changemaker in Australia can be a seriously tough wicket.
You can read all the articles on the problems and cycles of life in the public eye or the role of the changemaker. You can understand the pitfalls and the backlash as a theoretical concept. It still doesn’t change the impact it has though.
But- honestly – what alternative have you got?
Most Australian changemakers are in reality, reluctant heroes. This life isn’t so much chosen, it chooses you.
One minute, you’re caught up in identifying and solving a problem. The next minute, you have to rally the village, find the stead and charge on in.
Australian changemakers and that embedded drive
There’s a difference between someone who does art at a bride’s paint and sip, and someone who is an artist.
A brief flirtation is great. Art is fun to dabble in. It’s great to paint on occasion.
But an artist is driven by the desire to create and explore creativity, no matter what.
To an artist, to leave creativity behind is unfathomable. There has to be space for the joy of exploring, building and creating. The art is always calling. The ideas are bubbling. A well of expression and the desire to tell a story awaits.
Australian changemakers and the desire to enact change are no different.
There’s that desire to move the world forward. Yes, it’s about defining the problems. But more than that, it’s an ache to make the change.
And feeling those problems so keenly, being driven relentlessly by change is something else entirely.
It’s hard not to take the criticism personally because the changemaker’s lot is to feel personally connected to the change they advocate for. It’s hard to keep the lines from blurring when it comes to overwork because there’s always something, something, something that needs attending to.
Changemakers are the ones who, despite the wall of cynicism, corruption, darkness and pain they see before them, are the ones willing to risk further exposure to bleak cynicism, demoralising corruption, all-consuming darkness and searing pain in search of optimism.
And this is a truth we can never forget.
Australian changemakers are not perfect. How can you be when you are stuck in a messy, unmapped world cutting away at structures and systems built by people who don’t want change?
Where other people shrug their shoulders and say, “but what are you going to do?” changemakers say, “there must be something we can do!”
When other people throwdown roadblocks and mock that optimism, a changemaker swallows their grief, grab a pickaxe and get to breaking down the barriers.
Why? Because what else is there to do?
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