In the two months since the election I’ve been inundated with calls asking how folks can move their friends and neighbors to action. Their questions all come down to one simple ask: What’s it going to take to make change?
These are some of my favorite conversations to have, and to them well we often need to set aside an hour or more to really dive into the power dynamics, social/political context, and people they are trying to make change with. I love walking through the strategy model I learned many years ago at Wellstone: V(ision), A(ssessment), S(trategy) and T(actics). We align on what their real vision is for change, what are the resources and challenges to that change, then what are the strategies that can build the power they need and what tactics will best bring those strategies to life.
The trick is, most folks like to go straight to tactics – let’s do a cool website, or new tool, or rally – but miss the opportunity to design a tactic that moves the right levers of change for the problem one is trying to solve. It’s worth taking those few steps back.
As I had some time to reflect on these conversations over the break, I started to see a pattern emerge. No matter the question, context, or location – I kept hearing myself say something that boiled down to the age old phrase:
To lead people, you must love people; To save people, you must serve people
If you want immigrants to have better housing, why? Do you want to help some nameless faceless other? Or are you willing to be in real relationship to the people you think you want to help. What radical connection outside of your comfort zone are you willing to make in the name of justice?
If you want “rural” voters to “understand their own self-interest”, why? For their own good? For yours? And on what information are you basing your assessment, strategies and tactics? Are you willing to leave your comfortable neighborhood, cultural touchstones, and ways of being to understand the people you say you want to help? If not, then what are you really trying to achieve? and for whom?
I consistently think back to Bob Moses and the Freedom Summer images I’ve seen for years. People willing to not simply go to a place in injustice, but to live there, eat there, sleep there, make joy and experience pain there.
You may recall that at the beginning of 2016 I had experienced some life changes that made me realize I needed much more self-love in my life. That led me to a project of documenting my own learning of #radicalselflove here and on my Facebook page.
This year I’m seeking how to help people build more strategies and tactics rooted in loving and serving those with whom they want to make change. So I’ll be sharing #loveandservice all year long. If you have a passion project devoted to love and service, I’d love to feature you on the site.