Pay attention students, you have a front row seat to a fascinating case study in change.
Donald Trump may prove to be great at one thing: serving as an agent of change although the outcome could be very different than he envisions. People of all political persuasions and situations in life are aroused.
We’re getting a multitude of lessons at once:
- Disruption of traditional norms of social behavior by those in power and those who are inspired to resist.
- Unlikely allies overcoming their differences to unite for a desired outcome.
- Hazards of top-down, autocratic edicts and the means by which the worker bees can subvert them.
- Psychological and emotional dimensions of a leader and different segments of a diverse society.
- Sheer complexity of our global economic and geopolitical systems—nothing is simple and the unintended consequences abound.
- And perhaps the early days of what will be America’s next great social movement—one that transforms our values and institutions in ways that make them more relevant and resilient for our times.
Students of change and history, watch closely to see which theories of change, sociology and politics are affirmed and which ones have to be rewritten because new ones more accurately explain what works. This is an experience far more instructive than dry textbooks and so far more entertaining than reality TV.
To be a good student of change you can’t limit yourself to what your Facebook friends are tagging. You have to watch the full range of characters in this national drama. If you are progressive, read the conservatives. Find ways to talk to people whose life experiences and perspectives are different than your own.
Although the temptation might be great to tune out Trump, watch his speeches and interviews, not just the SNL parodies. It is true: he is not like any other president; so far he doesn’t act like any other leader (without reaching for possibly alarming historical comparisons).
Don’t take this post as a call to simply "watch and study". I was in the streets of Washington, DC January 21 and I am organizing in several spheres of my life to resist a vision for this country I reject. But I also recognize and appreciate this historic opportunity to analyze and learn. By paying close attention, we can discover how to be better agents of change in our ever-unfolding human drama.