Not a fake one to win votes or sell stuff.
A real one.
What Kind of Movement?
We endlessly debate whether this Movement should be liberal or conservative, religious or secular…as if we have a choice in the matter.
There are too many things we want this Movement to do.
We want it to unite us, revitalize our communities, reform our institutions, promote peace and justice and freedom all over the world…and conform to the whims of our favorite belief systems?
We don’t have the luxury of arguing over what we want this Movement to be.
We need to focus on what this Movement has to be.
That’s our only hope of making it a reality.
There are certain things we know about how our society works.
There are certain things we know about how human beings work.
And there are certain things we know about how successful movements work.
That’s where we have to start.
Because a movement that can’t explain how it’s going to get from point A to point B within the bounds of how things actually work…is dead on arrival.
Ideas and Beliefs: The Wrong Place to Start
It’s not that debating ideas is bad or wrong.
It’s just that ideas only matter to the extent that they change behaviors.
A successful movement does one thing, and one thing only:
It gets a critical mass of people to behave differently.
Trying to “educate” people, or change “hearts and minds,” therefore, is only helpful to the extent that it also changes behaviors.
Ask yourself–whenever you’re pondering, expressing, or debating the change you want to happen–if it’s in the service of that greater goal.
If it isn’t…it’s a waste of time.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming we’ve got to get the ideas and beliefs figured out first…then we have to convince everyone of the rightness of our ideas and beliefs…and only then can we effectively take action.
At best, this is a very tenuous, roundabout way of making the world a better place.
At worst…it’s simply silly.
Are we ever going to get the ideas completely right?
Are we ever going to get 320 million people to all believe the same things?
If we insist that we have to do all that idea- and belief-work first, all we’re going to do is end up going around and around in circles: endlessly debating hypothetical change instead of creating real change.
Make a Commitment to Act
Are you already working your heart out, taking action to make the world a better place?
Reaffirm your commitment to continue doing it for the next few years.
And spend some time thinking about how you can get other people to behave differently.
It’s all well and good to get people to think or feel differently.
But if it doesn’t lead to different behaviors…it isn’t helping to build a successful movement.
Do you want to help create real change…but haven’t ever gone beyond good intentions until now?
This is the time to step up.
This is the time to turn those thoughts, feelings, and desires into actions.
You’re going to have to behave differently.
That’s what a successful movement is.
Not having the right thoughts or feelings.
Not embracing the right ideas or beliefs.
Not even saying the right words.
A successful movement gets a critical mass of people to behave differently.
So make a resolution to act during the next few years.
(How, exactly? I’ll have more to say about that very soon.)