What to do when the door to the status quo opens slightly

There are times when you manage to open the door to the status quo ever so slightly. By status quo, I refer to those organizations and institutions (foundations, big budget non-profits, universities, government ministries, health systems, police departments and so on) who have power and resources to back up their perspective and mandate.

Don’t be deceived. Just because you have been able to make your point, disrupt an event, draw a line in the sand, seize the opportunity or get the attention of the status quo doesn’t mean that things will change in your favour. Even if you catch it unaware.

One of the core competencies of the status quo is its ability to withstand disruptive solutions and criticisms. To enshroud them. To round off their sharp edges. To isolate them. To rationalize maintaining things the way they are.

It may seem that you have made inroads. The status quo may even give a little bit.

That dear friend is just the whisper of a beginning. Depositing the issue on their doorstep is not enough and pretty well guarantees a solution you will not like. No matter how much they may like to, status quo organizations and institutions take their cues from the past. Even to the point of rolling back the gains you have made. The status quo has a long memory.

For this not to be the case you must enter through the door that is now slightly ajar (thanks to your efforts) and engage with the very people who you think are the cause of the problem. Who you have accused of being privileged and insensitive. Who you don’t trust and who you are certain you don’t like. This will be harder emotional work than you have ever done before.

Particularly since most representatives of the status quo see themselves as contributors to the solution you are seeking.

Now isn’t that a delicious paradox to chew on?


Peacemaking, is welcoming those who are culturally, psychologically, and intellectually different from us. Jean Vanier

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