When things go wrong, should you escape to greener pastures?
Imagine you’re an American bike enthusiast who strongly believes in reducing the number of cars on the roads for various reasons. But let’s not dwell on whether you’re right or wrong; that’s not the focus here. Let’s use it as a practical example.
So, should you pack up and move to the Netherlands? It seems like the obvious solution—a bike utopia that aligns with your beliefs. Sure, there are costs involved: the status quo, opportunity costs, and practical expenses like moving and plane tickets. But for now, let’s set those aside and focus on the argument.
The alternative is to fight locally, striving to align your city with your ideas. However, engaging in such endeavors can be risky. It requires time and effort, and people may perceive you differently. What if you’re mistaken? It’s challenging to recognize that our beliefs are subjective rather than absolute truths. This dilemma often revolves around the clash between epistemic and instrumental rationality.
As an example, some Americans claimed they would move to Canada if Trump won the 2016 election. Whether people actually followed through is still a topic of debate, but it appears that some did. Similarly, when Musk took over Twitter, some users vowed to abandon the platform. Twitter was already known to amplify right-wing voices more than left-wing, and Musk’s acquisition may have intensified this trend.
Now, let’s take a step back and consider the implications, regardless of your political beliefs. What happens when you flee from an unfavorable environment due to your convictions?
Be the change you wish to see in the world. Although commonly erroneously attributed to Gandhi, this popular quote encapsulates well my message.
By not utilizing your local knowledge and the connections you’ve built over the years in your hometown, it may be more challenging to effect change elsewhere. Starting anew might offer a tabula rasa, but you can also strive to make a difference right where you are.
Even if you’re not actively involved in lobbying or pushing for specific changes, simply residing in a place and engaging in conversations or voting contributes to shaping its transformation. You play a part in shifting the Overton window toward the acceptance of your beliefs within society.
It may seem like I’m discouraging actions such as migrating from Twitter, as mentioned in the example. However, it’s quite the opposite. I believe there’s a strategic approach to maximize your impact and align the world with your convictions.