Obama's victory has engendered a feeling of hope that things might change. Although I do not want to sour this intoxicating feeling, I do feel that people often misunderstand what change entails. Change is not the purview of our leaders, although they may inspire us to change - change is the responsibility of the individual. It is your responsibility, and it is mine. For the world to change, we must change.
When people think about change, they tend to think in terms of how other people must change to better reflect their values (which they tend to see as the only correct values). If your idea of change is getting what you want, having more people believe what you believe, your hope is naught but vanity. The harder road is to see how you might change to respect other people's values, or other people's needs, or even needs beyond people. It is this change - the change from the view of the self to the view beyond self - that offers the most remarkable depth of hope.
What appeals to me about the Kantian project is the idea of striving for an impossible goal where all our conflicting demands might be reconciled - perhaps not in actuality, but at least in hope. Kant called it "the Realm of Ends"; I call it communal autonomy. As I wrote about this before:
I know many of you hold neo-Nietzschean values in which you want to fight solely for your own corner, and not for everyone nor everything, and the great thing about the Kantian project is that because this is what you want, I have to reconcile your need for private gain against my own goal of mutual benefit. This is not easy! But nothing worthwhile ever was.
Mahatma Gandhi said "You must be the change you want to see in the world". This is the foundation upon which all change must rest. The hope of change begins with you, and the hope of change begins with us. It begins with recognising all that is not you. It begins with learning to communicate between different beliefs, different metaphysics, different worlds. It begins when you ask yourself not how other people should change, but how you might change yourself to become what you wish you could be. In this change lies our greatest hope.
Only a Game will return later this month.