The latest title in the publisher’s School of Life series aims to be a guide to social and cultural change.
Any guidebook with a title like How to Change the World that is also sized in such a way that it could fit comfortably in a handbag is going to need to make some assumptions about what needs changing and why. Without space to devote to arguing why things should change in certain ways, the remaining text needs to present a “how” that can be adapted for different aims. Journalist Flintoff (Sew Your Own: Man Finds Happiness and Meaning of Life—Making Clothes, 2010, etc.) largely succeeds in that his ideas are divorced from particular ideological goals, for the most part. In general, the author focuses on finding ways to make changes on a personal level—approaches to “being the change you want to see in the world.” The strongest writing comes when Flintoff hews to the fine line between starry-eyed idealism and pragmatic, here’s-the-five-steps-to-take detailing. His chapter on identifying values is especially thoughtful, providing clear direction on discovering the intersections between which values we derive from the culture and which we can find from within. Occasionally, the author veers over the line into dreaminess; much is made of engaging with the community around you, engaging with neighbors, which suggests an openness to engagement that may not be reciprocated on the other side. All too often, this brand of idealism in activism can come across as naïve, but Flintoff’s writing grounds that idealism in the idea that changing “the world” can have multiple meanings, each of them equally important.
A credible book to inspire even the most cynical among us.