A quick note about movements

We may repeat the awful revolutionary history of the 20th century because of the vulnerability of social movements to demagoguery.
– Todd Gitlin

There are many NGOs, nonprofit organizations, foundations, and other organizations with paid staff, that are seriously interested in promoting various types of social change, or policy change. The political will to make that change happen usually requires a movement; one that becomes so broad, and so deep,that the imagined change seems inevitable.

If the only people at the table talking about how changes must occur are people being paid to be at that table, then there is not what I would describe as a movement. The ONLY way to tell if you are really involved in a movement is when there are people around that table who are there not because they are getting paid to do so, but who are there because they are so passionate about the issue in question, that it is a moral imperative for them to be there. Not acting is not an option for them.

Leadership for change is about organizing, and supporting those people. French historian, Fernand Braudel once said,”History may be divided into three movements: what moves rapidly, what moves slowly and what appears not to move at all.” Leaders must recognize that people always want rapid change, but that persevering through change’s often slow process is what will occupy most of their time. The people who will get you through those slow, often agonizingly frustrating times, are the people for whom acting on their values is not a choice.

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