Don’t rely on politics or technology
“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change… We need not wait to see what others do.” – Mahatma Gandhi.
Markets, politics and the media are all reflections of our current desires. If we want positive change – and we must for the good of the planet and future generations – we must first change what we do and buy, and who we vote for.
Technology won’t offer a painless alternative to personal change. Electric cars are just as lethal and space-inefficient as petrol/diesel equivalents. The Cambridge Autonomous Metro, even if built, will only reach a fraction of the region’s population. Autonomous (i.e. unstaffed) public transport may not be desirable even when feasible, on grounds of personal safety, vandalism and fare evasion.
So, what can you be doing now to make a difference? It’s easy to respond negatively to change you don’t want. But the best rebuttal is to say what change you do want – or would accept – instead.
If bus services don’t serve your needs, tell your county councillor, Greater Cambridge Partnership and our MPs specifically what needs to change for you to use the bus (e.g. timetables, destinations, routes or fares). Do the same for footpaths or cycleways that are unsafe, unlit, poorly maintained, or don’t go where you need them to.
Talk to neighbours, work colleagues, other parents (if you have children) to find out what changes they too would support. Get involved in your parish council, residents’ association or neighbourhood forum, and put transport improvements on the agenda for discussion at meetings.
On a personal level, could you give up your second (or third) car for a Zipcar or occasional hire car? Could you club together with friends or neighbours to share a car? Could you take more of your holidays in destinations reachable by rail (which includes much of Europe)?
Be the change you want to see in the world – and use the power of community to multiply your influence.
This article was first published in the Cambridge Independent on 2 January 2019.