by Zoe Weil

There are people who strive vigorously to make MOGO (most good) choices in their daily lives.

They choose foods, products, transportation, clothing, housing and furniture, family size, and recreation — all with the MOGO ethic in mind.

They live simply, so that others may simply live.

They model their message of sustainability and compassionate living, and this is their primary effort at creating a better world.

They may assiduously avoid activism and politics, content to be doing their individual part in living a humane life.

There are others who strive to create systemic change as activists, thought-leaders, writers, policy-makers, and legislators.

They may point out that simple living – though admirable – won’t change dangerous and destructive systems, and that taking action against unjust systems and transforming policies is the primary way that we create abiding positive change.

They may pooh-pooh a focus on daily choices as largely irrelevant to real change and argue that whether they themselves drive an SUV or have more than two children or eat at McDonald’s is not relevant.

I think you know what’s coming.

Modeling our message and working for systemic change are both necessary components of creating a humane world.

Without effort to create structural changes, our individual choices are very small components of changemaking.

But without modeling our message in our daily choices, our policy efforts become empty rhetoric.

Neither approach can be fully successful on its own.

Without changes that create just, peaceful, and sustainable systems we’ll always be faced with daily choices that cause harm. We won’t truly be able to model our message to the greatest extent. And without modeling our message, we will lose our integrity and our credibility, crucial ingredients in successful social change.

To the greatest degree possible, we must each strive to model our message and work for change, and to do so with humility, humor, and honesty.