The Movements That Can Shift The World Back to Top

Movements That Can Shift the World: A Call to Action

Movements That Can Shift the World: A Call to Action

Part 2: A Call To Action: Linking Climate Change and Social Justice Issues To Save Democracy and the World
Click Here For Part 1: Let's March.

Developed By Alice Holstein, Ed.D.


Your document is an excellent representation of visionary truth. It expressed a faith in our future based on the coalescing facts that the planetary consciousness is truly at the edge of enlightenment. I wrote in my margin, “Trump is the writing on the WALL. Tear down the WALL.” The image of the Trump administration is now a choice for the future. It has shown us how the world will be if that “WALL” is not removed. It now is not a time for a simple reset. It is now time to deliver what Mother Earth begs of us. And surely, based on the few tremendous examples you presented, our very basic nature of love and nurturing has grown into, evolved into, global consciousness. I believe it to be inevitable, necessary, that the “Movements of Movements will become.

David Langer, retired teacher, La Crosse, WI

Noted environmentalist, Bill McKibben, believes that climate change is a ticking clock. Our last chance to save ourselves is to apply the “technology” of mass movements. In an illuminating Chapter 21 of his 2019 book, Falter, he emphasizes the point, saying that we need a “bulldozer” for reshaping the current worldview. That’s the job of social movements. He goes even further, suggesting that “sometimes history demands that the only crowbar for lurching forward was a revolution of some kind.”

McKibben’s clarion call for action encourages me. For 25 years I have been researching prospects for global transformation. After the 2016 elections, I asked, “How can I make a difference?” My answer was to use the power of the pen. As an elder, I am inspired by the grandmother who wrote to her daughters, “let’s march” in 2016. An avalanche of Facebook posts in response was the spark that inspired 6 million plus people to join the 2017 global Women’s March. This, in turn, helped produce the 2018 Blue Wave. I suggest that it is time to march again on an even grander scale.

There is evidence that another, much bigger march is both possible and critically needed. It is dependent, however, on linking climate change and racial-social-gender causes. The joining can create a critical mass that shifts the consciousness level. This is Mc Kibben’s “bulldozer.” Power shift objectives must include electing officials who will restore democracy while prioritizing both climate change and social justice issues.

Spring of 2020 is a logical time for a mass movement to be mobilized. That would be in time to affect get-out-the vote efforts in the U.S. A march, either then or later, could yield a revolutionary, non-violent outpouring. Marching will not be enough to avert that ticking clock, but it can inspire multitudes of follow-up actions. It can unite us about how to use the next decade to save ourselves. (“Save the World: A Decade of Healing” could be the gathering theme.)

Movements That Can Shift the World Already Exist

Winning an election is only part of the picture. What is needed is a mass outpouring that will jumpstart a global power shift. Such a goal is possible because movements that are millions strong already exist. The trouble is that they are not yet linked although coalitions are forming.

One of the leaders is the Sunrise Movement, composed largely of young people who are organizing swiftly. They are asking politicians to refuse fossil fuel campaign money. Get-out-the vote and legislative issues are among their main objectives.

Millions more potential marchers have been mobilized within the last several years. On March 15, 2019, students from more than 100 countries walked out of their classes to protest global warming. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York representative in Congress, was featured on the April 1 Time magazine cover as the lightning rod for THE GREEN NEW DEAL which caused a flurry of conversation in Congress. She commands a global twitter account. The Earth Day Network is organizing substantive activities for Earth Day week. A global Climate Strike is being mobilized for September, 2019. This is encouraging news indeed, but whenever the word, “climate” is used in the title by itself, this focuses public attention on climate alone versus including racial-social-gender issues as well.

Swedish school-girl, Greta Thunberg, has sparked a global crusade of climate protests and speeches to world organizations. Could it be that these cumulative stories might catalyze a united global protest by linking up a number of movements for evolutionary change? Could it be that young people, with their energy and social media technology, will seize the initiative and lead?

Amazing societal shifts have occurred before. The Berlin Wall fell in 1989 because the old order was overwhelmed by the force of those pushing for change. A well-known futurist, Willis Harman, suggested in a 1994 workshop in England that such a momentous shift could occur globally when the worldview changed. We are at that tipping point. A critical mass exists, awaiting stronger linkage.

Our own eyes see the danger. Hurricanes, floods, forest fires and heat waves tell the story while Washington remains paralyzed about preventing further catastrophes.

Hope exists, however. In early 2017 the Women’s March inspired the world. Then came the Florida school shooting that empowered nationwide school walkouts and an 800,000 march in Washington, D.C. The 2018 elections were a turning point. We can now imagine the “impossible,” a lifting up and mobilizing of the Movements That Can Shift the World.

This potential force, composed of disparate elements, can retain individual identities while it unites around the larger goals of climate change and social justice. There is the opportunity, in 2020, to engage in a non-violent, “power shift” that will fuel global transformation. A massive outpouring can lead to a new operating system for planet earth.

More Grass Roots Rising

Beyond the movements already cited, there are others to be included. The Reverend Dr. William Barber’s Moral Mondays and “fusion politics” coalesced thousands to work together on social justice issues in North Carolina. His “Poor People’s Campaign” has recently gained national attention. Looking backward, there was the Occupy movement (2010-12) that mounted demonstrations in 82 countries, 600 U.S. communities and 951 cities around the globe. Many of these participants have moved into organizations to change them from the inside. The #MeToo movement adds thousands and thousands to the 2017 Women’s March figures.

Black Lives Matter has emerged. The 2016 Standing Rock Sioux Reservation pipeline issue engaged representatives from 300 Native American tribes, thousands of military veterans, Black Lives Matter activists, religious leaders, civil libertarians and citizens of different faiths, races and political beliefs.

Other forces exist. After the 2016 election, the 25 page Indivisible document appeared on the internet, inspiring more than 6,000 grassroots organizations that helped win important legislative victories. The citizen action group is enormously active.

The 2017 Scientists march inspired 610 other global marches. There is a Resistance Movement with an unknown number of activists, and there is the millions-strong LGBTQ+ movement that won marriage equality rights relatively recently.

While this is a picture of unprecedented potential power, the trouble with this accumulation of activists is that they only partially see themselves as part of a linked, larger movement. Too often they exist in isolation, sometimes thinking that one issue, such as the environment, is more important than the social, racial and gender-justice issues, or vice-versa.

The fact is that common values underlie these efforts. Paul Hawken, author of the 2007 book, Blessed Unrest, wrote about “the largest social movement the world has ever seen” as having shared beliefs. These included The Golden Rule, which exists in all major religions in one way or the other, plus the idea that all of life is sacred. The need to save and heal the world is a common focus.

The several thousands of entities he catalogued differed in size, purpose, effectiveness, charters, leaders and power. What was unique, however, is that they did not conflict, an unprecedented historical happening. When linked, they represent a truly grassroots, democratic movement of massive power.

This effort might have many strong leaders, all dispersed. The movements would be a self-organizing system, moving like an amoeba, reflecting causes and needs within the larger whole. There would be no one “savior” leader. Instead, there would be “Save the World” t-shirts along with other colorful banners and shirts. Individual components need not give up their identities.

The elements would see themselves as part of a global transformation, not merely a protest movement. This requires a non-violent outpouring with an evolutionary purpose. This unity can lay the groundwork for a 2020 shift that unleashes healing forces, both personal and planetary. Global awareness and urgent follow-up action are possible. A decade of concentrated healing is needed.

Spring of 2020, may be a logical time to designate a day to march. It is time to say No to abuses of power and greed. It is time to mobilize McKibben’s “bulldozer” to save the world. This is a call to action to create environmental sustainability and social-racial-gender justice. This is a moment in time.

Lighting the World

Some 25 years ago, I had a waking dream that there was a world of darkness with black spots spreading over it. Someone was asking, “what’s all that fighting going on down there?” This picture was followed by a bright, yellow-orange ball that I knew to be the earth. The black dots disappeared while white light spread over the globe. I believe this vision represents an “Awakening of Humanity” that Barbara Marx Hubbard thought was the turn from unconscious evolution to conscious evolution. Spring, 2020, is the time when activists, ordinary people and organizations of all types and sizes can rise up to shift and save the world.

These actions must be peaceful ones. Protest will not be enough, but jump-starting a global renaissance can be the beginning of healing, rebirth and reinvention. A new world awaits us.


Alter, Charlotte. “The Making of AOC: How a 29 year-old is transforming politics.” Time. April 1, 2019. pp. 22-29.

Falkowski, Melissa and Garner, Eric, Eds. We Say #Never Again: Reporting by the Parkland Student Journalists. New York: Crown. 2018.

Harman, Willis. “Seminar on Ecological Economics.” Schumacher College, Devon, England, 1994. (week-long lecture on transformational/large scale societal change, attended in person).

Hawken, Paul. Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement In the World Came Into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming: New York: Viking, 2007.

Hawken, Paul. U-Tubes: “The Biggest Movement In the World.” Promo for his book, 5/24/12, 5.55 minutes, and “The Blessed Unrest.” Dominican University of California’s Institute for Leadership Studies, 11/10/2007, 43.04 minutes.

Hubbard, Barbara Marx. Conscious Evolution Revised Edition: Novato, CA, New World Library, 1998, 2015.

Hubbard, Barbara Marx. “The Awakening of Humanity, “UTNE Magazine, April, 2015.

McKibben, Bill. Falter: How the Human Game Has Begun to Play Itself Out. New York: Harry Holt and Sons, 2019.  (See especially Chapter 21.)

Occupy Movement, Wikipedia. March, 2015.


Worland, Justin. “Seeing Green: A New Climate for Climate: How the Green New Deal Jolted Washington.” Time. April 1, 2019. pp. 31-34.

Washington.” Time. April 1, 2019. pp. 31-34.

You are invited to pass this vision on with acknowledgement of the author.

© Alice A. Holstein, 2019.
Back to Top