Reflections on power and change agentry

Writing as power (Anne Frank House, Amsterdam)

Writing as power and change agentry (Anne Frank House, Amsterdam)

This week I’m devoting a couple of posts to collecting reflections on power, change agentry, intellectual activism, and the like. Especially if you, too, are thinking “big picture” right now, I hope you will find these pieces interesting and insightful.

10 ways to make a difference (2015) — “Let’s say you’ve got a cause you care deeply about, and you want to move it forward. It may be an initiative at work, a political issue, a community concern, or something else that matters. You may be at the beginning, in the middle, or tantalizingly close to success. I deliberately gave this post a somewhat breezy title, but you’ll see my intent is to be more ‘big picture’ as opposed to ‘checklist’ or ‘plug-and-play.’ What follows are hardly the first or last words about making a difference, but perhaps you’ll find them useful. In no particular order . . . .”

“I am powerless” (Probably not, but let’s talk about it) (2014) — “Over the past couple of months, I’ve taken note of essays and blog posts where individuals have shared a sense of powerlessness to change things for the better. . . . They come from good people who care about making the world a better place, yet who have reached a place of deep exasperation, frustration, or hopelessness. . . . I want to think about this out loud for a few minutes.”

Dialogues about dignity, Part III: Claiming and using power to do good (2013) — “I submit that those of us who have witnessed excesses of power may be wary or downright fearful of it, and with good reason. All too often, power is exercised by those who use it to hurt others. Consequently, many of us have come to associate power with abuse. . . . (S)uch ambivalence can cause us to cede our own power to make positive change. . . . But I think we need to face down the beast. We need to build our individual and collective power, exercise it effectively and judiciously, and keep it in check when we are tempted to use it excessively.”

The social responsibilities of intellectuals at a time of extraordinary human need (2013) — “I’m at the biennial Congress of the International Academy of Law and Mental Health in Amsterdam, Netherlands, where I’m presenting a couple of short papers and attending various panels and presentations. . . . On Monday, I presented on the topic of intellectual activism, the term I use to represent the ongoing process of using scholarship and research to inform law reform, social change, and public education efforts on compelling issues of the day. . . . Those who are privileged with the protections of tenure and academic freedom should embrace a social responsibility to be researching, understanding, and speaking out on matters of importance.”

Insiders, outsiders, and change agents (2013) — “It’s an ongoing, never settled debate: To create positive social change, is it better to work from within the established system, or to challenge the status quo from the outside? I think about this often, and here are a few quick thoughts, with a gentle warning that I will engage in some abstract, academic-type reflection . . . .”

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