We can all personally take steps to halt injustice or alleviate suffering on our own, and certainly our individual efforts can bring about substantial goodness and change. However, when we empower others to join us, our collective efforts reverberate like a pebble hitting the water… and our effectiveness grows exponentially, often in ways we would not have imagined.
If we presume that others bring meaningful information and dialogue to the table, they will come through in ways that they themselves often didn’t expect. In communities in which suffering is chronic due to poverty, social isolation or even natural disaster, a sense of having the capacity to create change may be absent. By being a catalyst for change, we offer part of our self to the process by which change comes about.
Suffering always accompanies poverty and isolation. But when people do not feel the capacity to become effective they very often come to accept what is unacceptable. This isn’t due to a lack of desire for change; it’s survival. Conversely, when people are genuinely empowered to care effectively, they usually choose to do so.
When we empower others to act, the outcome is far greater than the sum of the individual people involved. Creating change is to share knowledge, skills and confidence which empower people to move forward. When empowered to act, people who previously felt powerless come to mirror many of the attributes we see as our own best.
From that point of understanding we become partners in change. We help to create the leadership that we hope to see. And although others may not have the background or knowledge that we bring to the table, as organizers it is vital to recognize that our connectedness enables “people” to become the “process,” and for ideas to take shape.
Change is not the result of isolated thoughts (no matter how astute): it is the result of the sharing of those thoughts, turning them into activity and turning activity into outcomes.
After all, though we bring certain skills to the table, others bring a sense of community to the table along with a genuine personal investment in the outcome and a feet-on-the-ground understanding of the issues. It takes a team to create effective and meaningful change and wherever there are people who care there is the potential for change.