Process and Method of Change – Part 1

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There are many issues, policies and rules around us that we want to change for betterment of the society. In other words bring about a positive change for humanity. Societies in general discourage and penalizes ideologies that request change. Change is difficult to fathom as it challenges status quo. The other party at that point of time comes out with justifications on why the status quo is required giving examples of history, religion, political reasoning or legal issues. These justifications are generally motivated to prove such movements are unfair, unethical or illegal.

‘Rules for Radicals’, a book by Saul Alinsky provide implementable suggestions on the issues faced by people wanting to change status quo. It suggest howto organize the resources and then use it in a way to carry out change, in a peaceful manner. Below is part 1 of the 3 part series having a short summary of Saul’s book with my interpretations and twists.

1)      The Purpose: Every change should have a purpose or in corporate words a mission statement. This is the most important aspect of ‘Change’. Purpose provides direction, provides an aim towards which everyone works for. As per Saul, Purpose is the ‘Basic Truth’ achieving the aim of the movement. For example for Mahatma Gandhi, the basic truth was equality of every person. The purpose of the Indian revolution was ‘Equality and Justice’. Defining a purpose helps in logically deciding the plan of action and assists in collating the movement. Purpose helps in people identifying with the movement so that critical mass can be created and sustained and making the movement disassociated from the organizer.

Change requires working within the system, and therefore the purpose assists in plotting a path to change which is within the acceptable norms of the society.

2)      Of Means and Ends: After defining the purpose, the next pertinent question that comes is the means to achieving the goal. The dilemma is which road to take based upon moral issues, resources and possibilities of various choices of actions down the road. Saul tries to reason that the question is that “does this particular end justify this particular means?” In other words means should be such that they are ethical, within the system and should bring out the problem to the public for discussion. Means should be such that further course of action can be taken, changes if any in the plan be effected.

3)      A Word about Word: The words used to communicate the ideology should be carefully chosen. The words should be such that they are easy to understand, simple and people can relate to them. In the words of Mark Twain, “The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.” Therefore, words should be chosen in such a way so that they are difficult to misinterpret, misreported or twisted. Choosing correct words will help in more people identifying with the movement and reduce embarrassments of negative media. As far as possible, negative words should be discouraged and the organizers should try to use positive words to communicate their ideologies.

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