Note — Jun 28, 2020

The Slow Road to Sudden Change

Seen in → No.132

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Similarly to various artists or startups who often say that “it takes ten years to be an overnight success,” Rebecca Solnit explains how social change is also something that accrues over time, organization prepare, people change, moods and habits evolve, so that when the moment comes, like our current Black Lives Matter shift, things can move faster (lets hope) than they could have a few years prior.

A great public change is the ratification of innumerable small private changes; the bonfire is a pile of these small changes lit by some unforeseen event. […]

Time accelerates, things change faster than anyone expected, water clear as glass becomes churning whitewater, what was thought to be impossible or the work of years is accomplished in a flash. […]

The best ideas that change the world emerge from the shadows and the margins; they are at first ignored, then regarded with alarm or disdain by many outside those zones, and they work their way inward. When they are a consensus idea, that’s the end of the insurrection, or the waterfall, and politicians are smoothing things over and people have accepted the idea that they at first resisted, whether it’s the abolition of slavery or the right to marriage equality. […]

The consequences of this uprising are too many to count. The case that the police bring danger, escalation, and expense to many situations rather than peace and resolution is now far more widely accepted. Now it must be defended and implemented, and protected from both backlash and that dreary dragging resistance to change that makes the river sluggish.