This pictures expresses some of my thoughts about the process through which social change leaders reinterpret their life stories and the impact this has on their leadership.
When our internal frequency resonates with that of our environment, we can ease into and flow through any situation. Change inside leads to vibrational change around us. We can provoke quantum social change through our internal mental and emotional state. We can change our internal frequency through immersion in environments that reflect the yearning of our hearts and by exposing ourselves to a full range of frequencies to expand our field of vibrancy in all directions. In this way, we do not statically position ourselves at the highest frequency outside of the sight and sound of most others; we are able to attune ourselves and orchestrate the necessary combination and rhythm/flow of frequencies that reflect the environment in which we find ourselves as well as that which we want to create. We become transistors that vibrationally connect the real present to an idealized future.
I would like to introduce a proposed four step social change process:
- Provocation – Something happens that raises a question about the legitimacy of an existing social condition or raises awareness about an existing unjust social condition – OR – something happens that provokes the imagination in such a way that a better alternative future is envisioned
- Introspection – A person or group of people develops a strong personal conviction and thorough understanding of the problem or opportunity through thought, meditation, and/or prayer
- Confrontation – The social condition (real or imagined) is interpersonally explored and contested both with insiders and then with outsiders
- Transformation – A new social agreement is developed and implemented
I am starting to articulate the basic outline for my dissertation in the field of organizational leadership. While I have thought through the possibility of many topics, the recurrent theme is leadership in social justice or social change organizations. I am finding that the term “social change,” or more specifically “progressive social change” more easily resonates with a broader audience. I see these as terms as interconnected; perhaps social change is the process and social justice is the intended outcome.
What are your reactions to these expressions? How have you seen them used? Do you associate any specific positive or negative ideas with either one?
The Fruition Academy of Social Imagination and Action is launching on October 5th with Teaching, Learning, and Transformation.
- The purpose and meaning of education
- The relationship among knowledge, information, wisdom, and truth
- Power, oppression, resistance, and freedom in teaching and learning
- How we continually engage in implicit educational processes
- How to intentionally choose and use educational processes to strategically influence organizational and social change goals
- How understanding education can strengthen relationships, leadership, advocacy, fundraising, and other organizational processes
- A 60 minute online seminar
- A recording of the seminar
- A workbook including extended notes and reflection questions
- A certificate of participation
- Unlimited discussion about the topic with the instructor and other students at Le Salon Utopique
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Activism can be classified according to many characteristics. Based purely on anecdotal and intuitive evidence, I believe there is a positive relationship between the proactivity of a strategy/tactic (independent variable) and the sustainability of the change that results (dependent variable) Whether or not this is accurate, I do think that it is helpful to organize activism according to these variables as such:
Four quadrants are created based on whether strategies/tactics are reactive or proactive and whether the changes sought are short-term or long-term. I started to think of a name for each quadrant and fit examples into each, but this became problematic. It is difficult to “fit” complex activism into such neat categories. Nonetheless, this chart may be useful as we evaluate the fit between our actions and goals.
Based on my earlier thesis, I placed proactivity on the y-axis and length of the change sought on the x-axis. This suggests a movement toward more proactive strategies to result in longer-term social changes.
In my experience, much progressive activism is reactive; it is based on an external stimulus rather than internally driven. Applying the Pareto Principle, perhaps about 80% of progressive activism is reactive and defensive. I think we should begin with the vision of the world we want to create and start building it – rather than erratically undoing the work of oppressive systems and the people who benefit from them. Let’s shift 80% of our activism to proactive, offensive strategies to realize long-term, sustainable change.
I believe that social change is the result of both individual and organizational action. I further feel that social change is impossible without significant personal change – within both ourselves and others. Organizations, formal or informal, can be a conduit for collective action, amplifying – and morphing — personal change. To move from personal to organizational to social change, three factors are necessary: passion, vision, and commitment. Passion motivates movement toward the vision and commitment sustains us along the journey.
What is, never was.
What never was, will be.