Ever since Ken Keyes Jr wrote his book, The Hundredth Monkey, the theory this book is based on, has been criticised as being incomplete and inaccurate. The premise of this book is that a small number of people, just 2% of the population thinking and acting in the same way can change mass consciousness.
In more recent years Edith Chenoweth, a highly respected political scientist at Harvard University, stated that the magic ratio to change the world is 3.5%. Just a brief example of how this has worked in the past includes the peaceful protests carried out in 1986 when millions of Filipinos came together to pray and protest against the Marcos regime. On the fourth day following day the protests, the Marcos regime folded. Another example quoted is when the people of Georgia stormed their parliament in 2003, holding flowers in their hands. It is believed this action led to ousting their president in a bloodless revolution.
Edith Chenoweth has looked at hundreds of campaigns carried out over the last century and says that non-violent campaigns are more likely to achieve their goals than violent campaigns. It is this principle that inspires many of the climate change protests being carried out around the world, especially the Extinction Rebellion, and while you may not wish to protest, adding your thoughts, prayers and voice to saving our planet can only help.
If it takes 3.5% to oust a Government then it makes sense that this same number of people focused on a single goal, can change anything, as the Washington experiment in meditation indicates.
What meditation can do
In 1993 a study was carried out in Washington by a group of four thousand people who practised meditation for approximately seven weeks. Their sole intention was to reduce the city’s violent crime rate. This study was monitored by a board consisting of sociologists, criminologists, and officials from the police department and the Government of the District of Columbia. In determining the results the board took into account the temperature, daylight hours, as well as any changes to police and community anti-crime activities.
Prior to this project the city’s rate of violent crime had been steadily increasing. A week after the study began the violent crime rate started decreasing. The statistical probability that crime could be reduced by meditation was less than 2 in 1 billion, or .0000000002%. The figures on the success of this campaign vary, according to different sources, but the decrease in the violent crime rate is estimated to be between 23 – 75%.
It is also quoted that this research is extremely reliable by the usual standards of social science, which states that the positive effects of this coherence group cannot be attributed to other possible causes, including temperature, precipitation, weekends, and police and community anticrime activities.
Interestingly, though once this exercise was completed the city’s violent crime rate started to rise again, and I would suggest that was because the number of people meditating was not sufficiently high enough to create permanent change.
If you want to make a difference meditate
There are so many of us who want to make a difference but don’t know what to do. Whether you want people to be kinder, end the climate crisis we are living with, or live in a peaceful world we can all contribute by focusing daily, through prayer, meditation or active participation in peaceful protests and become part of the 3.5% needed to change the world.
In a country the size of Australia, we only need 875,000 people to make a difference. That may sound a lot but the number of people attending church each week in Australia is estimated to be 1.8 million. The number of people who meditate is not known, but the numbers world wide who pay for meditation apps is in the millions. If these groups focused on care and compassion for each other and our earth, what a different world we could live in.