The “change” fallacy

3 12 2009

I got a big kick out of an acquaintance’s Facebook post yesterday (he’s created a virtual Facebook fortune cookie where each day brings a new one line pearl of wisdom guaranteed to make your business succeed).  Yesterday’s was:  “To make a change, clients must believe they’re getting something greater than what they’re giving up.”

Now that’s a very logical statement…if it were true.  If we actually got to choose whether we changed or not.  If, by choosing NOT to change, we could STOP change.

The truth is, we can’t.

Remember that old adage:  the only constant is change.  Well, like most overused phrases, it’s overused because it happens to be true.

And, yet, we increasingly live in a world that denies change (even as the world, itself, is changing..constantly).  That pretends “change” is just one more thing to be spun or mastered by the infallible genius of human intellect.

Folks nip and tuck their way out of aging.  Hoping that you’ll look at the wonders surgery can do to a sagging neck…and not notice the natural beauty of aging hands.

As financial markets were hurtling America (and much of the world) over an economic cliff last year, the airwaves were filled with promises of change.  And, yet, one year later, what HAS changed?

Congress (hopefully) is about to pass health care reform that does increase access, but doesn’t do much to reduce cost.  Because politicians have refused to change the system where it is most fiscally ravenous:  the costs at the final two years of people’s lives.  The costs associated with senior care.

In our own lives, how many of us deep down inside know it’s time for a change…in career, in relationship, in scenery, in habits.  But we tell ourselves we’ll wait til it’s the “right time”.

Of course, what we really mean is that we don’t have the cajones to acknowledge the change that’s already happened…and all that’s needed is for us to acknowledge it, let it in.

Because that’s the fun little truth about change.  It’s always happening.  It’s happened with every second that you’ve read this blog.

And if you ignore it, you more and more find yourself in what a client of mine calls a “disorienting dilemma”.  You think you’ve dealt with it by ignoring it (just wait for the press releases trumpeting the “landmark” health care reform!).  You put a check mark next to an incomplete (or totally ignored) task and go on your merry way.

But here’s the funny thing about change.  It won’t be ignored. You can’t tuck it away in a box until the sun, the moon, and the stars align for that “perfect” moment to deal with it.

Nope, it’ll keep stalking you.

And we can muster up all the illusion we want to ignore it, eventually being consumed by a tsunami of the inevitable.

Or we can do the natural thing…and acknowledge the change.  Welcome it.  Dance with it.  And learn to ride its wave.

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Will a Gay March on Washington work?

8 06 2009

Cleve Jones confirmed yesterday a rumor that’s been bubbling for a few weeks:  that there will be a national gay march on Washington on October 11 (see Boston Globe story).

I love Cleve Jones and was honored to meet him a few times in my past political life,  but I wonder if a glbt march on Washington–excuse me, a GLBT March on Washington–is the right thing for these times.

Marches began because they were the best vehicle to get folks’ attention–for a prolonged time.  But in an age of iPhones and Blackberries, Facebook and Twitter, YouTube and tiVO, is that still true?  IS flying down to March on Washington the equivalent to using a rotary phone to chat with someone (a Princess rotary phone, to be sure)?

Which do you think is more effective:  A half-day March or millions upon millions of emails (or, better yet, Tweets) flooding Capital Hill and the White House for a sustained period of time?

Put another way, will Obama–who, I assume, is the Target-in-Chief look up from his Blackberry long enough to notice?  Will this decidedly NON-1960’s president pay any attention to this most 1960’s tactic?

What about the media?  Sure. It’ll make for great tv–for 15 seconds.  And then, like most parties, it’ll be remembered fondly by those who were there and quickly forgotten by those who weren’t.  To paraphrase LBJ, are gay marches like peeing in a dark suit?  They make you feel all warm inside, but no one really notices?  I’m not sure whether Cleve is a fan of golden showers or not, but Is THAT what he has in mind?

And what about our community?  Is a March really where we should be focusing our time AND money?

Face it:  more than a political statement, marches–at least GLBT Marches–are an excuse to party (and stoke the considerable egos of those who call themselves gay leaders).

I am am sure this morning that HRC, the Victory Fund, GLAAD, the DNC,  AIDS Action, et al have their fund raising arms in motion—trying to secure the hottest spot to have the hottest party.  And they’re dialing for dollars, calling sponsors to ask for big, big, big bucks to put their logos in front of a gaggle of gay boys who are high as a kite.

Imagine if those dollars went to actual lobbying?  To AIDS research (I know, I know–crazy.  Who wants to find a cure for AIDS when you’ve made such a nice career out of it?!?!!).

And imagine if all those glbt’ers took the party hardy dollars they plan on spending in DC and gave it to a small non-profit that actually gets work done.  Can’t think of one>?  Start with GLAD (the legal force behind gay marriage in MA and the current DOMA federal case).

Actually, GLAD’s a great case statement for what our community SHOULD be doing now.  Mary Bonauto and her team had the balls to push for gay marriage when the only–and I mean ONLY–glbt organization that thought it was a good idea was Freedom to Marry Coalition, led by the always amazing Josh Friedes. (I know from whence I speak.  I was in the room for many conversations when gay “leaders” slammed their fists on the table and/or literally walked out of the room because they thought the idea was insane).

GLAD and MassEquality (the dressed up version of FTMC) never threw big parties (until they actually had a win to celebrate).  They didn’t do big, fancy ads, or whore out for big sponsorship dollars.  They just did the work of building a sound legal argument, finding great plaintiffs, and relentlessly pushing their message where it mattered most:  Beacon Hill.

And it worked.

Now, look at Prop 8 in CA.  Are those “bigoted” Mormons, blacks and Latinos to blame?  To an extent.   But a big share of the blame rests at the feet of those who fought FOR gay marriage.  They are Exhibit A in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

So, what would happen if the gay community told our self-anointed leaders “Thanks, but no thanks”?  What if we had a virtual march—not on those who oppose us–but on those who pledge to lead us….and fail repeatedly?  What if we asked HRC or the DNC “what have you done for us lately” and told them that letters, proclamations, parties and taking our money did not count as answers?

And what if, to borrow a line from my former boss and forever hero Gerry Studds, rather than Party on Washington on October 11, every single person who is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender simply stood up–wherever they live their day-to-day lives–and said, simply, “I’m gay.”  Or, what if we borrowed a strategy from our immigrant brothers and sisters and called in sick to work on October 11 (remember what got corporate America’s attention on AIDS???).

As Gerry used to say, if everyone who is g,l,b or t did that–hell, if 1/3 of everyone did that–it would all be over.

Now, THAT’s a reason to throw a party!!