Effecting Change

By Scott Westerman
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“You know ‘status quo’ is latin for ‘the mess we’re in’.” ~Ronald Reagan

One of the things that drives me nuts about Facebook is how people complain about stuff there. Not that I’m against complaining. I actually love it… IF there is a solution and the willingness to engage in creating that solution is attached to it.

It’s hard to change the status quo on anything because:

Entrenched organizations are just that; well organized. They have someone in charge and a large infrastructure behind them that is well paid to keep things as they are. They have studied the rules of the game, know their competition, have plans in place to protect their position. And here is the biggest factor – They are dedicated to the cause.

If the past decade has taught us anything it’s that most people are basically comfortably numb, lethargic and, short of complaining on Facebook, are unwilling to get into the game. Entrenched, well organized operations count on this. They work harder and longer, knowing that most people won’t go the distance to fight to the finish. In a pinch, they will give just enough to defang the opposition. More likely, they will create a climate of fear, uncertainty and doubt about change, and spend lots and lots of time and money to protect their position.

Effecting change takes time, commitment to the cause and the willingness to lead. And it’s risky. We tend to attack charismatic leaders we don’t agree with. Take a strong position and your semi-comfortable existence is in danger. It’s easy to become demoralized, intimidated, afraid. And it’s very easy to give up.

So the majority of us just let it ride. We’ll yell at the TV, flame the social media comment sections, maybe even get some friends together for lunch for a group gripe. But we won’t do anything meaningful with the intensity and tenacity that it takes to effect change.

What’s the flip side of all of this? Engage, organize, execute, be willing to take some punches and keep on keeping on. One of my politician friends tells me, “Nothing frightens me more than a rational constituent on the other side of my argument.”

Occasionally, there will be something that will so inflame enough people that change occurs. But that’s rare.

“Change.” wrote Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.”

Margaret Mead’s motivational chestnut has become a cliche, but it’s still as valid today as it was when she first said it. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

The enemy, your competition, the status quo, is counting on the fact that you won’t commit to do what it takes to get what you want.

Will you?