Giving Compass' Take:
- This article originally appeared in the Stanford Social Innovation Review on June 28, 2017.
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Movements for progressive change consistently succeed when they begin and end with people, not things.
The success of the American Civil Rights Movement, for example, was largely a response to TV images of real people. Most people had no clue about the finer points of the legislation; they just wanted to stop innocent people from getting hurt. Mothers Against Drunk Driving was not about legal blood-alcohol limits and breathalyzers; it was about saving loved ones’ lives. Support for gay marriage grew swiftly when the conversation moved from an issue about equal rights to the highly personal message of love and commitment.
If we really want to make life better for people, where are the people in these conversations? Conversations that create real change aren’t about systems or money; they are about what people really want.
If we want to change hearts and minds regarding people having access to quality health care, it’s time to take a page from Community Organizing 101. Meet in settings people trust—places of worship, people’s living rooms. Especially in a time of so much misinformation, the more the information comes from people they trust, the more people will be messengers in their own circles. Rallies and town hall meetings are great for many reasons, but they cannot replace the power of small groups gathering with compadres who have the same problems, worries, goals, and dreams.
The bottom line is that we the people can make a difference in the fight to ensure that every person in the United States is as healthy as possible. It will take a conversation that has people in its title, is about people, and involves real people talking to each other. Because that is how progressive change has always happened.
To win hearts and minds—and votes—we must shift our national conversation to these basic conversations about people.