Nick Cooney

Consider for a moment how you came to be doing the type of activist work you’re doing now. Which of the following better describes what led you down this path?

(a) One day, or perhaps over a period of time, you thought to yourself: “I don’t like suffering and injustice. I don’t like unnecessary death and destruction. How can I reduce as much suffering and destruction of life as possible?”

(b) Personal or circumstantial reasons led you to do the type of work you do: the issue is interesting to you, the issue affects you and your loved ones personally, your friends are involved in this type of work, you had been hearing about it a lot in the media, etc.

Chances are that most of us came to be involved in the work we’re doing for personal or circumstantial reasons. It’s much rarer that someone will make a dispassionate decision to try to create as much change as possible, as described in scenario (a).

Nick Cooney, Change of Heart: What Psychology Can Teach Us about Creating Social Change, New York, 2011, p. 20