Revolution is a term that evokes a reaction. Our own revolution that secured our independence from the tyranny of King George is a somewhat distant or even nostalgic memory for most of us. More likely, when we think of revolution, we see it in terms of the more violent revolutions of the last century. The Bolshevik revolution in Russia was messy. Castro’s revolt in Cuba was equally bloody. Other more recent revolutions that reflected higher ideals than these did not come without a high cost either. The Civil Rights movement in the U.S., though initially and fundamentally a quiet and peaceful revolution, ultimately triggered violent responses on both sides. The end of apartheid in South Africa did not come easily. Their struggle for equality conjures up images of horrific atrocities committed by humans against each other. Can we conceive of a revolution that is free from these violent and aggressive aspects?
It has been said, “the pen is mightier than the sword,” that ideas are in reality more powerful than raw aggression against each other. In our case, we might update the saying to say, “thoughtful content that informs is more powerful than sheer force.” The revolution advocated on this blog is a quiet one, an inside job. Much of the battle must be fought inside our own selves and with our own inner voice. The culture around us, dominated by “extroversion as superior” thinking, speaks invalidation over those of us who differ. We’ve got to fight that message, not letting it into our soul, not receiving it into our hearts and inner lives. The battlefield of this revolution is the mind. It is there that thoughts, conscious and subconscious, reign over our corresponding emotions and behaviors. In this thought revolution, the truth can set us free.
We need to realize that we need not fight the fight on the terms of others. While others (namely extroverts) may be more comfortable with aggression, competitiveness and direct force as means to their desired end, by nature being true to who we are, we cannot fight on those terms. If there is anything that is true of introverts, it is that they are much more careful and cautious than to move forward with reckless abandon. Their strengths are in the area of deep thought and reflection. For us to fight this battle, we’ve got to move the battlefield to a more neutral site. To fight in a battle where immediate on the spot in the moment answers carry the day is to lose the battle. Losing the battle is ultimately to the detriment of our entire culture, not just us introverts. Our culture desperately needs the complementary skill set that we bring to help us all achieve a greater sense of balance and a truly bright future.
This revolution bears little resemblance to messy revolutions that have gone before. This isn’t like the crusades that forced the conversion of the masses to Christianity at the end of a sword. That would be a more extroverted way to bring change by force. This is a revolution of thoughts and ideas, of concepts and philosophy, of truth and reason. This site uses the term “revolution” in a non-traditional sense. Quiet revolutions are inherently different than loud or bloody ones. To inspire you, think of the atypical revolutionaries that have gone before us. From Jesus to Gandhi, Rosa Parks to Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln to Mother Theresa, they overcame differently. They inform a picture for us of a revolution of thought, of ideals, of principles. Our heroes are harder to find in what many have labeled a narcissistic and power-oriented culture. They intentionally pursue societal change in non-violent, non-aggressive ways. They speak truth to power and challenge those who have ears to hear and an open mind to challenge the status quo. I’m thankful for the contemporary revolutionaries that fight on this front. If you’re not familiar with these modern-day heroes, let me introduce some of them to you.
Susan Cain is not only an amazing author, but also a fine example of a human being and a thought leader worth following. If you haven’t read Quiet and seen her TED Talk yet, you really need to.
Laurie Helgoe is another hero of mine. Her book, Introvert Power, is a brilliant contribution to this revolution of thought. She heroically fights the power embedded in the system that creates the DSM Manual of mental health diagnoses. Sadly, that system has continued to attempt to make introversion a form of mental illness.
Adam McHugh is an introverted revolutionary, fighting the fight in the realm of the Christian community. He has the courage to stand up to an evangelical world and question their recreation of the historical Jesus into the image of the modern American CEO.
Adam Grant is a professor at Wharton Business School (U. Penn.) and a social introvert. He continues to challenge the extroverted leadership stereotype of superiority in the business world. He and his colleagues’ study of superior leadership in 2010 is landmark.
All of these people might look timid to you upon first impression (especially to those who are over the top extroverts). They may lack the kind of assertiveness that we have been told is necessary to lead others. Yet, the minute they open their mouth or put pen to paper, their wisdom and authority challenge the status quo in a way that oozes a higher order of wisdom and makes us take notice. This quiet revolution is being fought in the realm of thought, an area we are well-suited to.