If you look around you today, lots of activists and experts want to change the world. They have all manner of pet schemes for the improvement of the world in one regard or the other. Usually, they mean well and they are often right. They have done the analysis, crunched the numbers, written the books, papers and blog posts. They know they are right. All that remains is for the morons to get it.
These activists and experts - - take the climate change/green movement/planetary emergence activists as an example -- are often in the clamorous grip of a holy impatience. This epic impatience manifests in a number of ways:
- They ask political leaders to show 'leadership' and 'do the right thing', even if the parliamentary arithmetic is dire, that is, the votes are simply not there for the change sought. If the hitherto admired political leaders do not decree the change sought --government by proclamation! -- they get denounced as worse than useless. Nothing else they've done matters.
- They stop being civil. In addressing those who disagree with their aims, or simply are not yet persuaded, they exhaust the vocabulary of denunciation available in the most comprehensive thesaurus available. Ad hominem attacks often replace reasoned contestation.
- Finally, these activists and experts often disdain public opinion. The attitude is: 'Why don't they get it, these morons?' Which is unfortunate. For as Lee Wasserman wrote in the New York Times recently about the killing of the climate change bill in the United States Congress, it is difficult to upend entrenched interests without public pressure forcing legislators to act. You have to get public opinion on your side. And that takes patient, persistent work. You have to get people to focus on your issue, care about it, want to do something about it, and be willing to push for change. There is a science to that, as well as an art. Insulting those you need is certainly not going to make change happen.
It seems to me that the epic impatience needs some discipline. There is work to be done. How about epic persistence?
Photo Credit: Flickr user kk+