This past Saturday was a good day for a march. Sunny sixty degree days are tough to come by during a Cleveland January, let alone on the Saturday following a contentious Presidential Inauguration.
While the potential march-able causes are endless, the common theme across the country focused on women. And the topic is still abuzz. But to be candid, I think the biggest opportunity in the march was spoiled, THE INTRODUCTION of a cause to an unfamiliar audience.
Without speaking to any cause or issue specifically, I think my two cents can be of use to anyone attempting to convey a genuine message.
Often when we think about the word "protection" in the context of rights we think of government regulation one way or another.
Some march to repeal regulation, some march to impose new regulations. In essence this approach applies to rights-based causes, whether the topic is women, the environment, religion, or the Indiana bat.
What often gets left by the wayside when one chooses to focus on protection through regulation is that regulation is not necessary for protection.
Let me make a logically supported emotional appeal. There's an abstract equation to rally your reluctant neighbor to protect a cause, any cause. There's no skipping any steps, and there's no tricking them through paperwork in the long run.
People only protect what they love. People only love what they know. And people can't know until they've been introduced.
Let's say, for hot topic's sake, someone has disparaging opinions of women's equal value in the workplace. And in the long run, you'd like for not only this person, but many others, to have a change of heart, and follow your lead, a better way.
The only place you can start with this cause, any cause, is the introduction to your unfamiliar audience. You must present yourself in such a way that the person you're trying to sway feels comfortable enough to get to know you, your cause. Only once they know you and your cause in the genuine way you present it, can they feel comfortable enough to fall in love.
And of this I'm certain, people only protect what they love. Which is actually important to know if you're in the business of getting strangers to protect your cause.
People marching together on the large scale we saw this past Saturday was an overwhelmingly positive experience. But I think undoubtedly the opportunity to leverage the march into tangible change was missed.
As with any introduction, distractions can rapidly derail the train on which the message travels. When I see the photos on Facebook with thousands of women leading a peaceful display of solidarity, but a dozen of them huddled around a sign making fun of Donald Trump's small hands, I see a metaphorical bar-b-que sauce stain on a nice white shirt.
One stain alone isn't usually enough to kill a conversation. But then you scroll and see a dozen more stains. And at some point you have to wonder, regardless of what's being said, "what the hell am I looking at?"
My positive takeaway here is that there is boundless potential to leverage tangible change in our immediate future in this country, and there's a simple way to turn that potential into results. But hostile introductions cripple well meaning causes across the board.
Who are you trying to sell your cause to? Why aren't you doing everything in your power to make them feel comfortable enough to get to know your genuine message?
We're currently in a world that is a couple tweaks away from major causes being in an unrecognizably better position. But the approach must change to focus on the comfort of the unfamiliar audience in order to capitalize on this opportunity. THE INTRODUCTION must be on point before anything else can follow. And I think that's where so many causes fail to get off the ground.
I don't think we get to where want to be in society by marching. I think we get there by talking to our literal neighbors and saying, "Hey. I want to introduce you to what I care about. I want you to get to know what I care about. And I want to get to know you, and what you care about. I won't trick you. I won't force you. And I promise to be patient. Because I know this might take a long time. But I think we'll both be better off once we take the time to get to know each other."
In all seriousness, I write all this because I want people to get what they want, whatever it is. That's really the common thread in what I put on this site.