How Do We Change the Status Quo?

Change Jam QuestionsChangemakers want to make a difference. They see something that doesn't sit right with them, and they try to do something about it.

But in order to avoid being like the little Dutch boy who stuck his fingers in the holes in the dike in hopes of averting a catastrophe, we need to look beneath the surface to understand what's going on that's causing the things we want to fix, and address the causes that make them that way.

Most who try to change the status quo (i.e, the way things are) act like bulls in a china shop, butting heads and testing wills against the forces that they think are responsible for the conditions they want to change.

Their effort is one of struggle and conflict. Sometimes they are strong enough to prevail. But most of the time, they fall short in the face of so many obstacles, not to mention having the rules of the system stacked against them.

Lasting change, then, becomes difficult if not well nigh impossible until a tipping point is reached and they amass enough power to rewrite the rules and make ongoing harm stop.

That change is usually brought about by public support. When enough of it is garnered, and the issue becomes important enough to the people, it becomes policy of those elected to ride herd over the offenders.

Even so, such change is rarely dramatic. Rather, the powers that be are so entrenched that they can usually water down the efforts and render them ineffective. Or if not, then to use their influence to make sure that such changes only occur around the edges, and not at the core of what's going on the cause it.

* * * * *

Conflict does not bring about change; consciousness does.

I suggest, however, that while it may be necessary for changemakers to stand against the offenders (or at least the offense), the purpose of such stand should not be to bring about change in and of itself. Rather, it should be to create a space in which consciousness can take hold, examine the issues on both sides, and empower the people with more choice over where such actions fit into the world they want for themselves.

For consciousness is the tool by which the status quo changes. Light brings awareness not only of the problem; it illuminates its causes as well. And hopefully, if that light shines brightly enough, it reveals the choices that were made to allow them to take hold, and the underlying factors that gave rise to them.

For instance, last year we saw a vast groundswell of protests known as the Occupy movement. Ostensibly it started over actions that were seen as corporate excess and greed. But many used it to voice their discontent with other aspects of our society, including the loss of jobs and homes by many who suffered under the heavy yoke of top-heavy system built on the pursuit of power and self-interest.

The protests, had little effect on bringing about change. It didn't help that the protesters were unclear as to what those changes needed to be, much less that they weren't all focused on the same things.

The corporate practices keep going today. Yet the change is underway even as we speak, though coming about in ways not envisioned by those who made their stand.

For the consciousness to make a difference is the same consciousness that has given rise to individuals beginning to choose ways of going about their lives that demonstrate their concern for the environment and each other.

That consciousness has given rise to the green movement and green business (though admittedly much of that is still controlled by the profit-at-all-cost mentality that pervades much of our business affairs).

It has also seen the birth of the social impact movement, where social ventures, social enterprises, B-corporations, ISO26000 guidelines, and a host of other activities have begun to form. It remains to be seen whether any of the existing efforts will have the impact they want, much less be lasting or spread to the greater society.

But the consciousness behind them -- to choose to conduct our affairs in ways that will create a better tomorrow -- continues to grow. As it does, it will give birth to new lifestyles, new businesses, and new leaders who will slowly but surely act upon that status quo and build something better.

I can't say what form it will take. Consciousness doesn't work in such certainty.

But what I can say is that the old consciousness will give way to a new one, where serving "me" isn't first any more, but will be joined by what serves others/our planet and God as well. Sort of a new trinity is being formed that is bringing about a new way to see ourselves and create a balance between us and our inner and outer worlds.

To get there, we probably will see many great conflicts between those who want to impose change and those who don't want that which is being foisted upon them. After all, that's the way duality works.

But the real change is somewhere in the middle as both sides allow their beliefs to find ways to co-exist. To do that they will have to change how they see things, and let go of some of the beliefs they have.

To create change, expand choice.

This is where the real work of changemakers must take place -- in changing the beliefs and practices. But no one will go along if you're trying to impose that change upon them. They have to WANT to, and undertake the change for themselves.

That's why it's so important that we don't get so caught up in the struggle that we forget to deal with the fears and desires, hurts and misunderstandings, and myriad other conditions that cause they to take their sides and engage in the conflict.

Each side is justified in what it is doing. As human beings, they have that right. But as conscious humans, they will be able to choose what to believe, and what to do, to manifest the reality they want to live.

It is this choice that we changemakers must give them. Helping them to see that the way things are doesn't have to be the way things must be.

This is the way to change the status quo. So next time you're quick to pick up the sword and fight with those you see doing something you don't like, just stop and ask yourself -- what is it that makes them want to do it that way? How can I love them and allow them to have choice over their affairs, yet still work for a better outcome to serve us all?

We cannot get there as a House Divided. Together we must find a way to move forward. Only then will we see the change we truly want.

God bless you indeed.