1. First you have to realize that it really needs changing. We’ve got that one.
2. There’s not much hope of changing genes. That’s been tried and it did not go well. Of course, this time the concentrations would be in test tubes.
3. The real question is how do you change “memes,” the cultural equivalent of genes.
4. First you have to think of them and define them. We’ve got that one.
5. How do you know what to change them TO? The things we know about genes is that it doesn’t work like “one gene/one characteristic,” like one for alcoholism and one for blue eyes and like that. It’s the interactions among them, when they turn on and off, what the state of the container body is at the time, nutrition, trauma, and lots of other stuff. We’ve been messing with the genes of our food and now everyone’s allergic and diabetic, etc. Might be Roundup Ready wheat, but maybe not.
6. Who gets to decide about memes? Maybe Miss Manners wants one kind of meme and Larry Flynt wants another. (You better check that out -- they might be a lot more in agreement than anyone suspects.)
7. Everything is a process. If people were as liable to morph in their descriptions as fast as the political parties do, we’d hardly recognize each other from one day to the next. In fact, sometimes we don’t.
8. Aging (ahem, of course I mean “maturation”) changes people from one day to the next, sometimes gradually and sometimes all at once.
9. Changing circumstances mean the person reacts to them and becomes different. Consider boot camp. Consider refugees.
10. People are reluctant to change their assumptions about categories and values in a range from easy to near-sanity-shattering. Is it more likely that little changes will gradually work or that some catastrophic event will force change?
11. Change happens all the time anyway but might be entirely unrecognized, maybe because small things drift until some critical mass is achieved, maybe because of denial, maybe because something is damming up the accumulation of change and then the dam breaks.
12. If deliberate changes are made, they may precipitate new and even more powerful changes that were never intended. One of my fav examples is the handling of Native Americans -- just for one thing, sending all the kids off to government high schools away from home just at the age when they are courting has created a whole new “tribe” of full-bloods, well-educated and rather sophisticated because of traveling, but with very mixed ideas about how to do things.
13. The whole impetus of new generations being born every day is that you can’t step into the same river twice and that new people create a new world as they come. Consider that all those “majority rules” old white guys are now the minority.
14. There is always a little core of things that don’t change. Identifying them is a problem. Often they are so assumed that they escape perception. In fact, I can’t think of any examples right now.
15. Add money. I just got the newspaper off the front stoop. The headline is the millions of dollars to be dispersed by the Blackfeet Tribe to its members. Frakking leases had already been tipping the scales -- no one knows in what direction for sure -- in the long run. I am cynical enough to think the payment was held up until the oil companies had coerced as many frakking leases as they could by exploiting the general money shortage.
16. Feedback loops. There are two Blackfeet compensation payouts for the mismanagement of tribal assets by the US Government acting as trustee: one is for the individual trusts and the other is for the tribal trust for pooled assets. The sooner one will be a good experiment for the later one, close enough in time for the consequences of a bad idea to not be forgotten.
17. Relax taboos. Taboos withhold knowledge. When a taboo is lifted and we all see, for instance, what human bodies really look like in all their assortment, the juju goes out of it. (But isn’t it a little strange that middle-aged women with grown children are just now finding out the stuff in “Fifty Shades of Gray”? Should s/m be taboo since so many mommies are interested? Just to protect them from embarrassing their grown children?)
18. Go too far. Social permissiveness is convenient and even kind of fun, until people begin to be damaged by lack of standards. Has the “princess” movement (little girls dressing up in evening gowns and tiaras, not for an event but every day) gone too far? Has “living together” gone too far? Has Facebook gone too far? Has climbing Mt. Everest gone too far?
19. Tell a good story. It’s the secret of the majority of major religions. If you haven’t got time for a story, an image will do. Although the impact can’t always be predicted. I and others thought the sight of the planet Earth from outer space would change hearts, but for some people it only meant that this planet was too small and they should start staking out which parts of space they owned.
20. Invent a new technology. The new satellite telescope can “see” spans of wavelengths that we’ve not seen before, like “dark matter” and "black holes." The night sky (or even the day sky since sunlight is not necessarily an interference if you’re looking for a different kind of “light”) will not be the same.
21. Notice a loss. Where did the bees go? The frogs? The bats? Who would have thought that we’d miss them? What does it mean? Suddenly we’re scared and more willing to accept the expense of findiing out.
22. Demonstrate. (Not recommended in a country that shoots its citizens.)
The operative when envisioning the future is “be keerful whut yah wish fer cuz yer liable to get it.” All the people who were jealous of Mexicans and insisted that they be driven out are finding that our financial collapse is doing the job, but also it’s pulling in far more Asians that usual, thus making cultural hegemony even stronger: “Cultural hegemony proposes that a culturally diverse society can be dominated (ruled) by one social class, whose dominance is achieved by manipulating the societal culture (beliefs, explanation, perceptions, values, mores) so that its ruling-class worldview Weltanschuauungis imposed as the societal norm” Some people have noticed that Asians can perform our social norm better than many whites can.