From civil rights to gender rights, from sexual assault to gun control, to your personal habits, all movements and all lasting change start in the same place.
A Cultural Moment of Change
In case you haven’t noticed, we are “having a moment,” culturally speaking.
This surge of activism emerges on the heels of the #MeToo movement, and it feels similar.
It feels like the dawning of a new day in a political fight that has stretched on endlessly for years without much progress.
The issues at play in both cases have been thrust into the spotlight before, only to fade quickly. And although it’s too soon to tell whether either movement will yield sustainable, lasting change this time, it certainly feels like we’ve turned a corner.
In part it’s because the same refrain is driving both movements. It’s the battle cry that has spurred the biggest movements in history, from civil rights to gender equality:
This is the battle cry of change.
Why Change is Hard
All change entails destruction: the tearing down of old paradigms and structures to erect the new. It’s messy and uncomfortable work; and we live in a culture that doesn’t like messy and uncomfortable.
Every change needs a catalyzing force, something to push it into being. That force must be strong enough to overcome the resistance to mess and discomfort.
Reaching the Threshold
It’s not enough to desire change. You must compel change.
Lasting change is born of resolve.
True resolve comes from hitting a threshold, a point at which you are no longer willing to tolerate the status quo.
That threshold is the point of Enough.
It’s the moment when you reach the mindset of Never Again — the refrain after the atrocities of the Holocaust and, now, the name of the movement created by the survivors from Stoneman Douglas.
How You Get to Threshold
The only way to get to the threshold moment, the moment of enough, where you compel change, is to allow the feelings.
Anger. Grief. Rage. Frustration.
Rather than self-soothing or escaping into comfort food or busyness, the survivors from Parkland are feeling their emotions. They are harnessing the energy of their wounds and channeling it into movement for change. Their cries of pain have become their rallying cry:
Enough is Enough.
What the Moment of Change Sounds Like
Resolve is typically born in a moment that looks like the scene from the 1976 movie Network.
In that movie, news anchor Howard Beale, played by Peter Finch, gives a speech bemoaning the the state of the country: inflation, crime, the Russians, the futility of writing to Congress. (The speech is eerily on point with today’s challenges.) He acknowledges the need for change, and gives his prescription for where that change comes from.
Things have got to change. But first, you’ve gotta get mad!…You’ve got to say, I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!
From Cultural to Personal
This is the starting gate for all big cultural movements. It’s also the place where change starts on the micro level.
The Parkland shooting happened on Valentine’s Day. Studies show that 80% of people fail in their resolutions by then.
They fail because they don’t resolve.
They fail because they don’t compel change.
They fail because they don’t feel their emotions.
How to Create Lasting Change
If we want real change — in our world and in our lives — we must be willing to feel all the emotions, including the uncomfortable emotions that bring us to the threshold.
This has been the spark for every great movement in history. Things stay at the status quo until you get mad enough to fight for change.
Dr. King knew it. The high school students in Florida know it.
Your Personal Change
What change are you trying to make in your life? What habits are you trying to break or build?
Things can change. You can change. But first you have allow yourself to feel the pain of the status quo.
You must get mad enough to stick your head out the window and scream out to the world:
That’s it. It’s enough. I’m not going to take this anymore. Never again.
Perhaps the momentum on sexual harassment and gun control feel different this time because we are finally feeling.
Perhaps we’ve finally reached the threshold where we can embrace the secret to lasting change:
Where in your life have you had enough?