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Multiplication (Hope, part 3)

Updated: Nov 19, 2022


“Be the change you want to see in the world”.


“Hope is not something that you have. Hope is something that you create, with your actions. Hope is something you have to manifest into the world, and once one person has hope, it can be contagious. Other people start acting in a way that has more hope.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Acient trees alongside a country road in Suffolk County, UK. Photo: Filip Van Kerckhoven

In the previous post, I talked about Greta, and how she, against all odds and "common sense," as a fifteen-year-old schoolgirl, inspired and moved millions worldwide into hope and action.

There is also a danger in her success: that we come to believe that Greta will fix it for us.

If we see activists fighting for change with some degree of success, it can have an undesirable effect: that we ourselves remain passive. After all, change will be taken care of, right? People like Greta will save us. We can continue to watch from the sidelines.

That is a misguided viewpoint.

We must not make the mistake of seeing the energy, decisiveness, faith, and courage of people like Greta and many others as an invitation to remain passive ourselves. On the contrary, we must see it as an invitation to take action ourselves.

Are we going to leave it to our children to do the hard work for us?

However, we should also not make the mistake of believing that our intentions and actions are only meaningful if, like Greta, we reach and inspire millions of people.

That, again, would be an invitation to passivity.

Although we can never be sure how many people we will reach with our actions: Greta also will not have suspected at first that she would find such a global resonance with her message.

Climate protest in Nuremberg, Germany, 2019. Photo: Markus Spiske on Unsplash.

But even if we can inspire just a few people into hope and take action, that can be enough to help initiate and galvanize a global transformation.

To be precise, it is enough to inspire three people to action. More is also fine, of course, but with three we can already go a long way.

This has everything to do with the power of exponential growth.

We got to know this power during the pandemic under the name 'reproduction rate'.

During an epidemic, a reproduction rate of three is disastrous: if each person infects three others, and these in turn infect three others, in no time the entire population is infected. Exponential growth can enable phenomena to expand at a faster rate than one would think possible.

In the case of an infectious disease, a reproduction rate of three is fatal because this exponential growth will cause an unstoppable multiplication of sick people after only a few steps.

Illustration of the effect of a reproduction rate of three (source: MDPI).

However, this aspect of the reproduction rate does not only apply to diseases: positive deeds and intentions can also be contagious.

And in the case of positive intentions and actions, a reproduction rate of three is not only anything but disastrous, but can lead in a short time to unexpectedly large social upheavals for the better, and to sudden leaps in evolution that can seem miraculous.

The reproduction rate is one of those things that makes the impossible not only possible, but even probable, if we put our shoulders to it with enough people.

If someone can inspire three people to take an action of their own, which in turn can inspire three more people, and so on, then in no time at all, that "reproduction rate of hope" can initiate a shift in the collective consciousness.

And that goes for each and every one of you. You, reading this, you may not be aware of your power, and the impact you can have.

By power, I don't mean power in the usual sense of the word, as a kind of aggressive dominance over something or someone.

No, I mean power in the sense of an essential strength that potentially lies dormant in each of us. It is well enough known how "ordinary" people are capable of extraordinary things in extraordinary circumstances.

Greta is a fantastic example of this: as a fifteen-year-old schoolgirl, she inspired millions around the world.

Our circumstances are going to become more extraordinary from year to year, that much is clear. And those extraordinary things we are capable of can also be invaluable on a small scale.

In fact, there is no ‘small scale’. Everything is connected to everything, and so are you. The smallest action or intention can have unforeseen major consequences. Science also is beginning to tell us new and wholly unexpected things about how consciousness and matter and system-processes on every level of existence are linked and inextricably intertwined. I will write more about that in a series of forthcoming essays, but the main takeaway is this: nothing is what you thought it is, and the world is not an empty theatre for blind cause-effect mechanisms. Much more is possible than you ever imagined.

And the world is going to need the power of each of us.

Let's follow Greta's example and take action, each in our own way and according to our own capabilities.

In the coming posts, I will continue to talk about what that might mean for each of us, and what those possibilities might entail.

Let's go for a reproduction factor of three or more. If you can 'infect' three others with hope and decisiveness and inspire them to take action, the consequences can be incalculable. Partly because of a sociological phenomenon called the ‘domino theory’. More on that in the next blog post.

Let's leave our grandchildren a world in which individuals once again believe in their own strength, in the potential that dwells in each of us to actually care for our grandchildren and their grandchildren, and for our shared body, the biosphere of our planet. Let us not become the generation that gave up. Or who thought that someone else was going to solve it. Let's amaze ourselves by what we are capable of. Let's be able to say to our grandchildren in a few decades that we did everything we could to save them.

More on that and what each of us can contribute in subsequent blog posts.

With this, I bid you farewell and wish you a happy week,

All the best to you,



Questions for contemplation

Do you believe that individual actions can be "contagious" and initiate and accelerate major social change?

Do you see a role for yourself in this? Do you think you could inspire and encourage a few people to take initiatives and action of their own?

If yes, are you willing to start doing that?

If no, why not?


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