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The World Has Changed. So Can You. 27


“The world has changed. You can too” – World Wildlife Foundation commercial.

I love this brilliant commercial. It highlights how drastically our society has changed in just 50 years. What was once considered the “norm” is now incomprehensible and even repulsive to our present day society.

It prompts one to imagine what the same video might look like 50 years from now. Will we look back on our present over-consuming lifestyles and feel shame? Or will we reminisce on the old days where we treated our planet so well?

The future is anything but certain.

Change in our society comes from either internal forces where social pressures change peoples’ behaviour, or from external events where change is forced upon the society.

An example of an internally-driven change is smoking. Where smoking was once the “cool” thing to do, it has now been marginalized in North America and most people now consider smoking to be negative behaviour. Smoking has been banned in most public places in North America and lighting up during pregnancy has been unacceptable in our society for some time, where once it was considered normal.

Becoming educated about the harm that our actions cause is one of the main driving forces to this type of internal societal change, and it took several decades for smoking to become marginalized as it has now become.

Externally-driven changes are forced upon our society by factors beyond our control. Natural disasters and wars are examples of these types of change, as is the rising prices of oil that results from oil becoming more scarce. People will be forced to find ways to consume less oil as the price of oil rises.

In our present day society, I am somewhat marginalized by some acquaintances who think everything is okay with our current way of living. But given our history, this will most likely change when people realize the true extent of the damage precipitated by our current way of living.

We can all contribute to educating each other about the harmful effects of our actions and work together as a society to search for pragmatic solutions to these issues.

The bicycle is but one such pragmatic solution to many issues that we face in our present-day society. The bicycle is a healthy, fun way to transport ourselves while minimizing our impact.

The billboard hijacking that I wrote about last month is a great example of promoting an ideal that is drastically different from the status quo.

What looks odd now will perhaps seem normal 50 years from now (or so I hope).



Billboard hijacking photos by Dr. Paul Martin and Mike Rubbo /

You have a choice to either be one of the driving forces to create positive change, or you can react to external factors that force change upon  you. The choice is yours.

The world has changed. And so can you.

James D. Schwartz is the editor of The Urban Country. You can contact James at

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27 thoughts on “The World Has Changed. So Can You.

  1. Paul Martin Apr 11,2011 10:09 pm

    James, excellent post. I feel we’re on the same wavelength.

  2. James D. Schwartz Apr 11,2011 11:44 pm

    Thanks Paul, we definitely are on the same wavelength. I’m excited and anxious at the same time about what the future holds.

  3. She Rides a Bike Apr 12,2011 5:33 am

    Very pointed argument to counter the tiresome and often repeated insistence in this country that “oh, that would never work here. Americans have to have their cars”. What? Am I not American? Are the millions across the country who actually do make the choice to bike, walk or ride a bus not Americans? I truly want to scream when I hear this stupid argument. I am not special or remarkable in any way. I encountered the problem of high gas prices in 2008 and found a solution that ultimately became preferable to maintaining two car.

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  27. jake Oct 8,2014 12:58 pm

    Riding carrying an umbrella is not only stupid it is dangerous.

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