Why do some protests, no matter how large they grow, fail to be a catalyst for change, while others actually become a catalyst for change? The answer is Vision and collective intent.
A protest that is purely focused on being against something but has no vision of something better that can rally masses to focus on a collective intent, will not be sustainable. The impact will be much less because resistance absorbs much of the created energy. The focus is what already exists so all the energy goes toward what exists. Nothing new is being created. If nothing new is created - no vision of what should be - all that will remain when the protests are done is what already exists.
One of the greatest examples of a protest with an amazing vision is our own American Revolution. The colonies grew weary of the diversion of their growing wealth to the mother country - Britain. Great Britain, and most of the world, was then ruled by monarchies. Britain was a powerful empire. The odds of winning a war against this empire were zero.
One document changed the odds - the Declaration of Independence. It provided the colonists with a shared vision and intent. They focused on creating something totally new. The colonists began to fight for something instead of against something. Against all odds, we became a nation founded on the vision of this document - a document whose vision remains elusive in its fulfillment for all. We need to focus on the vision and continue to march toward its fulfillment.
Martin Luther King was a master at providing a vision. His "I have a Dream" speech captivated the hearts of millions in its eloquence and ability to create a shared vision. With that vision, millions had the stamina to chisel away at the injustices that prevented that vision from being reality.
If we want change - large or small - we first need a vision of what can be - what should be. Protesting alone will not succeed. That vision needs mass appeal in order to gain traction. We have to walk toward that vision as if no one is going to stop us. When there is resistance, we have to focus on the vision and not the resistance. March past it. The vision has to be something that lifts the masses.
As we enter into a new year, lets work on our vision. Choose something right in front of you and see it, believe it, feel it the way is should be. Walk in the light of knowing that it will be. See the resistance as a simple test of your commitment. Walk past it.