Four years. Go.

Take the Auntie Ruth challenge!

Take the Auntie Ruth challenge!

(Come friend Aunt Ruthie on Facebook and let’s hang out.)

The front page of the website Four Years. Go. ( declares the following: “The next four years will determine our planet’s next 1,000,” i.e., “Yes we can,” rephrased to “Damn well better, and soon.”

More than 3,000 individuals and nearly 1,000 organizations have signed up; The Pachamama Alliance, P:5Y and 2020 Fund have spearheaded the initiative, encouraging activisms big and small on behalf of global sustainability.

Activism, what does that mean? Social change is different these days: “Yes we can” meant send Barack Obama money, we’ll elect him, he’ll change what needs changing; if he doesn’t, we can sink back into: a) centrist apathy, b) leftist angst, c) tea-party psychoses. Environmental change? You’re may be tired of hearing it by now, but don’t be: Millions of people, politicians and corporations must make a number of changes—many small, some huge—or the grandkids will be refugees wandering the Pacific coastline of Colorado. Overstated, sure. And so what?

Activism used to mean something besides a click of the donate button, or cloth bags in the trunk of the car heading to market. In the ’60s, when the stakes were civil rights (a cause for which many died), feminism and the anti-war movement (for which great sacrifices were made), activism meant total immersion in political activity.

Total immersion. Two pretty big words.

Auntie Ruth was zapped by activist lightning when in college. It changed her life—all she did was flier outside Bank of America, go to meetings, plan rallies, go to meetings, practice civil disobedience, go to jail, get out and go to more meetings. Too young for the ’60s, we were concerned with banks and universities investing in apartheid and yes, nurturing the seeds of modern environmentalism.

Auntie Ruth learned how to articulate issues, how to communicate them—face to face, on the phone, through a flier or an ad—and how to discern, critically, the many ways power thumps its chest. She felt the charge of being part of something larger; of joining the best of her peers in a common cause. And she truly believed she was making a difference.

If she has learned as an adult the baffling inertia of social change—the wheels grind so slowly, seemingly backward and forward at the same time, leaving good people cynical, burnt out or worse—still she knows it’s that time again. Search your soul—y’up for it?