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Nothing About Us Without Us Redux

Nothing About Us Without Us Redux


Almost a year to the day, deep into my first month as Net Impact’s CEO, I wrote a piece entitled, “Nothing About Us Without Us.” It was mainly about recognizing the broad constituencies impacted by decisions made by the privileged few - a more significant concept I breezed through. My point was more that we, at Net Impact Central, are stewards of our organization, an affinity member network of the like-minded, seeking to foster a more just and sustainable world. Our stewardship would not be about you, without you

One year later (quite a year), the expression, Nothing About Us Without Us, is a more front-and-center entreaty - a call to action. We can rise to that call.

Global Dissatisfaction Can Yield Collective Influence and a Voice

These feel like fractured times. Physical distancing forced on us and civic issues appearing polarizing with little consensus built. But what we say and believe doesn't seem to be acted upon or enacted by our leaders. 

It manifests in the attraction of some to populist, jingoist politics and pundits, businesses moved to adopt stakeholder (vs. solely shareholder) objectives, to the current international outrage at the disproportionate risks borne by the marginalized due to COVID-19. When you add in the heinous racial inequities galvanizing all peoples worldwide, you find a common thread: our institutions have not reflected the will of people. As we’ve become more connected, as capitalism has lifted most out of poverty, increasingly apparent inequitable symptoms have been treated with palliative solutions, applied by the powerful who seek to retain control of the narrative. Thus, they can always drive solutions that allow them to maintain their power.

We can change this. We can all adopt a philosophy of Nothing About Us Without Us. It starts with each of us insisting on being heard or responsibly asserting our influence. Some would have us believe we are all irreconcilably polarized. I disagree. A collective revulsion of our increased marginalization is unifying. We should pull the camera back to see the larger dynamic of who controls the narrative and our lack of voice, as driving a universal disdain. 

Taking the Red Pill or the Blue Pill

Nope, not talking US politics, talking movies. Recall the line from The Matrix where Neo essentially tells power, “I came here to tell you how it's going to begin. I'm going to hang up this phone, and then I'm going to show these people what you don't want them to see. I'm going to show them a world without you.” This feels more like where we are. What if we take the red pill?

Net Impact Mission 

Our stated mission is to inspire and equip emerging leaders to foster a just and sustainable world. There is a palpable shift in our Net Impact Network, and a worldwide collective desire to be heard, insisting upon equity and justice. We are an aware and engaged membership of over 160,000 boots on the ground that can also activate. We listen and are answering this collective community call. Ours is the network, the generation that can make real change.

Activate Through Civic Engagement - Stand for Something or Fall for Anything

A first step in getting things done is to assert your rights of citizenship. Be steeped in the local issues and vote. Engage others amongst your friends, family, community to do the same. Call out systemic issues you see, polling places that aren’t open, voting machines that don’t work. Do you hear elected officials only point out the problems and flaws in the voting system, with no solutions? Say Something! Suggest something! Help drive inclusion and equitability. Real democracy and those that cherish and nurture it, should want expanded participation. Here are some questions for you to ponder:

  • Why isn't Election Day a holiday? How easy do you think it is for the working poor or those historically systematically denied rights to choose to, or be comfortable enough to enter a polling place? To vote on a workday?
  • Wouldn’t our elected officials be more accountable if most people voted? Wouldn’t voters trust outcomes more as well?

Nothing About Us Without Us

I am not suggesting that you take a particular stand - but if you are going to make a difference in this world, you must have a view, you must articulate it and participate in improving our systems and institutions. You should/could activate the engagement of others too. We are a robust community. If not us, who? If not now, when?

This article is a part of a continuing series by Peter Lupoff and Net Impact staff, exploring what it means to “Reimagine Capitalism” as collateral to, and in support of NI20 - Reimagining Capitalism - a learning journey with regular digital conversations and workshops. For more information: