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How to create a culture shift: Jia Tolentino

Paria @ Collage Labyrinth


Jia Tolentino, journalist, editor, author Trick Mirror: A Study of Self-Delusion Insist on optimism

These are heavy days. Anxiety crackles in the atmosphere. Fear and malaise form a basic level of fog. The circle of regression is crushing the right to abortion and the freedom of democracy. The earth is so warm that it cannot live. Inequality grinds the majority to the ground. And we handle it all through the machines in the hands that our minds and heads depend on, the devices that paralyze our minds with the tsunami of information and keep us away through the connection itself. What can i do? How can we change the conditions that bind us? How do you handle the fact that individual actions alone cannot solve it?

Culture shift jiatolentino

Enough for everyone to shrink. But we can’t – we can’t accept this world as the final answer. To remember this, I must constantly unravel one set of instincts and consolidate another. This cultural moment, and this stage of capitalism, says satisfaction should be immediate, efficiency should be moral good, and everything should be as cheap and easy as possible. But nothing is of such value. Easy, instant and cheap. What we really want is not to exempt us from discomfort and difficulty. Permanent transformation requires a slow, conflict-filled process that involves and confuses us. Workers’ rights, civil rights, protection of abortion, environmental regulations – these are won after decades of pesky collective efforts and are only revoked by enthusiastic long games. The society that many of us want, that is, a society characterized by justice, cooperation, dignity, progress, and freedom, does not come true by default. As activists know, the changes you drive may not bring about in your life or at all. But you can find a way to the road that leads to it. And that journey to change feels very different from what our culture offers. It feels deeper, more human, more complex, more realistic, physical and beautiful than anything else.

If I can offer what I have learned on my own normal path towards a vision of change, this is it. Change means moving towards something unpleasant rather than pulling it apart. That means putting real things on the line, such as money, time, and advantages. That means making yourself accountable to more people. To me, that means committing to the idea that I keep changing, my actions in the past will always seem inadequate for those who are becoming me. That means focusing on the person closest to the ground in question. That means remembering that movement uncertainty always feels better than numbness in paralysis. That means trusting that there are always people who learn from the people who built the toolkits we can use to do our jobs. That means listening to my body during overwhelming times and forgiving my shortages while looking at them clearly-but it also may reduce consumption and escape, but “burnout syndrome” It means understanding that you will never dismantle boredom. That means rejecting the dominant cultural premise that good life is one of the comforts of an isolated home and the only individual victory. That means finding something to recover and reward me in the process of change itself.

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Nowadays, it’s often difficult to avoid feeling despair. But we need to learn to separate emotions in terms of allowing the former to pass over us like a shadow, while the latter categorically refuses to settle. Hope is discipline, as Mariam Hippo said. As Antonio Gramsci stated, pessimism of intelligence, optimism of will. As far as I know, I have no right to give up my dream of a better future. Children go to bed knowing that many of the animals they read will be extinct by the end of the century, not when workers strike for living wages and grandmothers in the village of Global South are fighting oil companies. Would, but more and more determined to do what they can to create a better world. We need to walk together with transformational opportunities, comfort, and thrills.

This article appeared in the September 2022 issue of ELLE, which was released on July 28th.

Trick Mirror: A Study of Self-Delusion



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