Whether it is due to government dysfunction, lack of hope, or a variety of other reasons, it is often difficult to inspire people to join together to advocate for systemic change. Recently, at the J Street national conference, I had the fortune to attend a workshop conducted by a Palestinian, Nizar Farsakh, of The Leading Change Network. Mr. Farsakh discussed his utter loss of hope as a Palestinian living in the occupied territories, but then told the story of watching Hamas militants shoot a 10 year old boy, which rather than depressing him further, inspired him to dedicate his life to using positive and peaceful tools to advocate for systemic change.
Farsakh went on to explain that many people have one or more of the following inhibitors which prevent them to take action to change the system which oppresses them.
Fortunately, each of these inhibitors can be overcome by motivators.
- Urgency overcomes inertia
- Anger overcomes apathy
- Hope overcomes fear
- Solidarity overcomes isolation
- Knowing you can make a difference overcomes self-doubt
For many, of course, it is much easier to say these things than do them, especially if one or more of the inhibitors is rooted very deeply. Therefore, it is essential to develop a strategy for systems change.
The New Organizing Institute has an on-line toolbox to help those interested in organizing for systemic change. One of their trainings, on Theory of Change. One key element of that training is the lesson that:
Strategy is turning the resources you have into the power you need, to win the change you want.
This can be applied to any system that requires changing and is the key to successfully accomplishing your systems change goals.