E.U. is not the only way

Once upon a time I used to run an NGO in Brussels, aiming to make the world a better place by hanging around and spreading the word in the corridors of the E.U. institutions.

Driven by the euphoria that had followed the rejection of the software patent directive by the European Parliament a few years earlier, I was confident that Democracy would always prevail and that educating decision makers on certain realities they were not aware of would eventually lead to sustainable changes.

Sadly, bureaucracy kills progress, and it would be foolish to expect the bolts of a machine to have any influence apart from their predetermined role – unless they’d break. Similarly, you can’t hope for any major change to come from our elected representatives. Bear in mind: most of them don’t even have the choice of the software they use.

By mid 2013 it had become obvious that the European institutions were not the right levers to consider for he or she who wants to make a difference in Europe.

This came to be self-evident after the adoption of the Unitary Patent by the European Parliament in December 2012 – not only inconsistent with the position defended in the past, but also a complete waiver on their power as legislator in patent law in favor of a system that both citizens and the entire software industry had expressed concerns about.

I was flabbergasted. Such a level of incompetence and complacency was beyond imagination. This sudden realization happened together with a growing despondency regarding Brussels. Nothing was holding me there anymore. I decided to move away.

The truth is, E.U. is not the only way. It’s a well established myth to think that as long as politicians won’t take action there is nothing we can do to fix our economy, our environment and our society. It is however completely up to us to come up with solutions and start implementing them within our own circle of influence.

It is certainly not an easy task and does require a bit of commitment. But this is something we can do, as long as we genuinely want it, and it does not imply any kind of extreme behaviour – simply a little practice in thinking out of the box.

A few months back I decided to start learning programming. I already had good experience in web development but had yet to master any computer language. Since then my vision of the world and the possibilities offered to us in terms of innovation has radically changed.

Tools to fix our society’s flaws are just at our fingertips. Technological progress will ultimately overcome current crises in such an indisputable manner that politicians will have no other choice but to follow. Old, outdated models will then simply collapse on their own.

The remaining question is: how long it will take, and whether or not you are willing to be part of it.  “The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new”, says Dan Millman’s character. How about giving it a try?