I met someone recently who has spent years studying social change movements all over the world. He says successful social protests OPEN UP SPACE in places where we think there isn’t any space.
For example, before the Occupy movement began in 2011, economic inequality was more accepted as “just the way it is.” But, he said, “when someone camps out on Wall Street or the White House lawn,” we see economic inequality in a way we hadn’t before.
Their protests opened up a SPACE.
In 2002, the Boston Globe published an explosive report of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church and it became a national scandal. In previous years, newspapers had occasionally reported on isolated incidents, but they’d never pieced together a bigger story of systemic abuse. Until 2002, most of us had never really “seen” this issue.
Cultural change happens when we are able to SEE SOMETHING IN A NEW WAY, something that before had been unpleasant but tolerated (human rights abuses, the environment, campaign finance, economic inequity, racial justice, etc).
Something happens that pierces through our understanding of the world.
Something that had been hidden or unseen is now no longer acceptable.
A new kind of space is opened.