RBG on Social Change

The Aspen Institute

The Aspen Institute

The art of social change is simple in the “Unsinkable” RBG’s view. Take the seismic change over the past 50 years on gay rights.

As Gail Collins writes in a piece about Ruth Bader Ginsburg in today’s The New York Times:

The speed with which the country has already accepted gay rights was, she theorized, just a matter of gay people coming out, and the rest of the country realizing that ‘we all knew and liked and loved people who were gay.'”

And Ginsburg is, of course, right. That very human act of speaking a courageous truth is, and likely always will be, the most powerful force for change. And we should never lose faith in it.

That’s why I, like others, have suggested that we apply the same principles that have worked on gay rights to other important social and global issues, such as climate change.

In an article published in The Daily Beast, I identified seven lessons that climate activists could adapt from the gay rights movement, including:

1. Teach people how to talk about it.

2. Cultivate community.

3. Have a simple message.

4. Tell personal, inclusive stories.

5. Shatter stereotypes.

6. Focus on heartfelt values.

7. Be positive!

A bit more personally–OK, a lot more personally–is this piece I published on Medium: “Coming Out on Climate Change.” (CNN’s John Sutter also wrote an interesting piece last month under the same title.) Perhaps it could catch on.

What do you think?

P.S. Good to hear the 81-year-old Ginsburg plans to stick around for a while. Read Gail Collins’ article, “The Unsinkable R.B.G.”

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