My Theory on Social Change

Written July 1, 2013

same change image

I have this theory about social changes and paradigm shifts. My theory is that we as a humanity can only handle bits and pieces of change at a time. For any particular shift, there’s always some visionary-inclined folks who can see the world in the new space with ease and work hard to carry us there by doing research, looking at all sides, understanding the needs of the shift, and most importantly, holding their vision amid all sorts of resistance.

And speaking of resistance, while the visionaries are doing their thing, there are other folks whose job it is to keep the status quo, to maintain an element of stability so those visionaries can reach as far as possible and still have a place to return. Sometimes those folks are doing their job out of understanding of the shift’s needs, but usually they’re doing it out of fear or their hard-set beliefs and a desire not to have the shift happen. It doesn’t matter why. They’re still keeping the status quo and that’s important with this theory. You see, the visionaries need that place of stability to double check and balance their far-reaching ideas and they need that place to return to be familiar, so that then they can share what they see and, if it is a solid vision, they’re able to gather up a few more people to bring along on their quest to spread it out a little more.

Stay with me here.  

This keeps happening, i.e. the visionaries keep going out to learn and see and then coming back to test their theories and inform and share what they see as truth. Eventually with all of this coming and going and checking and sharing, there becomes a larger collective that can see the vision, believe it, and understand how it can happen. And before long (although sometimes it feels like way too long if you’re the visionary) there are more people seeing the vision than staying back holding the status quo and questioning it. And then things shift. That shift is always a little painful, but not as painful as it would be if the whole thing shifted right away without the balance of the status quo folks and the visionaries doing their dance together for awhile. And then a new state of balance is reached and it starts all over again. And so it goes.

*Note: This theory of mine is loosely based on the theory of Spiral Dynamics. Very loosely. If you’re interested in reading more about it, you can give it a Google search and check it out.

(The image used for this article was created by Stuart Miles for freedigitalphotos.net)

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Regina Leffers McCaleb, Ph.D.

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