Ten Things To Keep In Mind When Making a Difference

Peter Singer, the famous animal rights activist and ethicist, writes about ten ways to make a difference when pursuing your cause (and changing minds). Here are the ten headlines. He offers details under each one. Thanks Ramit Sethi for the pointer.

1. Try to understand the public’s current thinking and where it could he encouraged to go tomorrow. Above all, keep in touch with reality.

2. Select a target on the basis of vulnerabilities to public opinion, the intensity of suffering, and the opportunities for change.

3. Set goals that are achievable. Bring about meaningful change one step at a time. Raising awareness is not enough.

4. Establish credible sources of information and documentation. Never assume anything. Never deceive the media or the public. Maintain credibility, don’t exaggerate or hype the issue.

5. Don’t divide the world into saints and sinners. [BTC: This is an excellent tip. Bifurcating the issue into good or evil is a recipe for disaster.]

6. Seek dialogue and attempt to work together to solve problems. Position issues as problems with solutions. This is best done by presenting realistic alternatives.

7. Be ready for confrontation if your target remains unresponsive. If accepted channels don’t work, prepare an escalating public awareness campaign to place your adversary on the defensive.

8. Avoid bureaucracy.

9. Don’t assume that only legislation or legal action can solve the problem.

10. Ask yourself: "Will it work?"

One Response to Ten Things To Keep In Mind When Making a Difference

  1. Dani says:

    useful list! I remember reading Singer’s animal rights arguments–I actually had a bit of a fit and yammered at my professor after class about how horrified I was that Singer equated people in comas with sentient animals and that all of my co-students said “okay, wheee! We love animals, we agree!” Singer’s animal rights arguments provoked probably the strongest negative reaction I’ve ever had in class, ever ever.

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