Idea: The Tradition of Change Agents

Change is in the air. And in the water. In the streets. On the placards, in the voices of the people on the march. With a single, united voice, we hear the cry: Change!

But upon closer examination, what they really mean is that change is what other people need to do. We’re fine, you’re the problem.

But change isn’t always the problem, it’s too often the people who propose it without self-reflection and humility. Back in the early 2000s, I was in a leadership forum for the city of Milwaukee. One evening, when. It was my turn to moderate the guest panel, the topic might have had something to do with leadership. Maybe the family. Maybe communities. The four panelists all were quite descriptive of how change was needed and long, long overdue. Towards the end, I mentioned that all of their advice was directed towards others. My last question was to ask how they themselves might change. What was it that they were doing that might need some improvement to help with change? This was not a welcome question nor obviously one with easy answers.

The great English writer G. K. Chesterton had said that the best criticism was self-criticism.

It’s been told that The Times of London once ran an essay contest asking, What’s Wrong with the World? Chesterton, who in his lifetime wrote over 100 books and over 5000 essays (A typical prolific journalist might write 2000 essays and no books in his or her lifetime) responded with this simple essay to the question of what’s wrong with the world:

Dear Sirs,

I am.


G. K. Chesterton

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