What Change Looks Like

I think we get sold a narrow definition of what it takes to make change.

Be in marches and protests! Rage against elected officials! Non-stop petitioning, lobbying, calling, op-ed writing!

Change, of the flavor the media covers and history tells us about, is a thoroughly public and thoroughly loud affair.

And if we aren’t doing those public and loud things, we can feel guilty, like we aren’t doing enough.

But the full definition of what it takes to make change is much wider and much deeper than just what we can see. The continuum of change is long and only some parts of it are visible.

To change something - be it minds, policies, or beyond - is to alter its form, to shift the very anatomy of it in such a way that could not happen were it left alone. And that necessitates the loud and the quiet efforts, the public and the private efforts.

Change is marches and protests. It is also the biography the kid reads that blows her mind open. The nurse who tells the patient, “Your health deserves the same kind of care you give your children’s health.” The meal that shifts the patron from factory-farm bought to locally bought. The painting a young girl sees that depicts someone like her as worthy and powerful.

These are subterranean forms of change. You won’t read about them. There won’t be a day, statue, pin to honor them. Yet absent them, change cannot, will not happen.

The biggest changes are wrought by many hands. Our effort is no less worthy, essential, impactful because it is less visible than other efforts. The truth - which remains true although it doesn’t get told to us this way - is that change requires hands both seen and unseen.

The Lightning Notes is funded by kind donors. If something here strikes you, I'd be grateful if you'd consider donating. Click to Donate!