On Challenging the Status Quo to Make a Difference

by Belinda Munoz on July 25, 2011

One need only to scan the news headlines to know that we are living in times when real and big changes are possible.

This past weekend, Phyllis Siegel, 77, and Connie Kopelov, 85, and many other same-sex couples were issued marriage licenses in New York, the sixth U.S. state to date to legalize same-sex marriage.  This is certainly cause for celebration knowing how the LGBT population is still being mistreated today.  And yet this is hardly ground-breaking.  Why?  Here are three reasons: 1) there are currently ten countries where marriage equality already exists (the Netherlands, as you may recall, celebrated their 10th year anniversary a few weeks ago); 2)same-sex unions have historically been documented since the Roman Empire (and here’s a link to a book I once read and love to reference); 3) perhaps the simplest reason there is is that same-sex couples exist.  While the majority of the U.S. has been slow to legalize same-sex marriage, New York is a step in the right direction if you, like me, hope that one day, every citizen of the world will have basic human rights.

In Israel, women, today, are daring to sit in front of the bus, a section that is customarily occupied by the men, apparently for religious reason.  It’s hard to believe that it was only fifty years ago when the Freedom Riders fought racial segregation in the U.S. South.  These volunteers in Israel are met with physical violence and verbal abuse, just as the Freedom Riders were in the 60s.

Women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to do many things.  They cannot vote.  They cannot be elected to high political positions.  They are banned from driving cars. While many, supposedly, do not wish to change this, more and more women are daring to drive a vehicle.  Driving, to these women, gives them a sense of control and independence.  Saudi Women for Driving has appealed a woman U.S. diplomat and women members of Congress to stand with them in their desire to be issued a driver’s license.

It’s easy to get pulled in to the cynicism-complacency-complaining vortex about the possibility of big changes happening.  My leaning-impatient nature has led me there and back and there again.

Hope may waver but this does not mean that change — real and big — does not take place.  Rosa Parks certainly would not have said so.  Phyllis and Connie from New York would certainly disagree.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. ~~ Margaret Mead


What status quo would you challenge if you could make a difference?

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri July 25, 2011 at 8:59 am

Great piece Belinda. If it were up to me, I would challenge the accepted practice of child brides in various parts of the world and the alienation of widows in India.


2 Belinda Munoz July 25, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Yes, Rudri, thanks for bringing up the child brides issue in India. After you and I spoke, I read about 5-year old Rajani in National Geographic, the piece written by Cynthia Gorney. I’ve included the link here for those who may be curious.


3 BigLittleWolf July 25, 2011 at 9:12 am

Wonderful post, Belinda.

For me, these days, it would be hard to choose one thing because social issues are so frequently intertwined, and cultural bias is only challenged with education and perhaps experience.

That said, I suspect it would have to do with health care – real health care, which would include the necessary education about how to eat properly and affordably. Which of course begs the issue of accessibility to healthy food in the first place, and our priorities, as a nation that is increasingly “every man for himself.”


4 ayala July 25, 2011 at 9:42 am

Great post, Belinda. So many injustices it’s difficult to choose one. Rudri and BLW have the right ideas. I do believe that the voice of a few could change the world.


5 Sara Healy July 25, 2011 at 11:34 am

First of all, I love the Margaret Mead quote:~)

I would legalize prostitution. I’m not saying I’m in favor of prostitution, but I fear for the women who end up on this path and the risks they take, especially in the States. I would make sure the changes in the laws include their right justice in cases of rape, which doesn’t happen that often with prostitutes. In addition, I would encourage the free distribution of a female condom, as well adequate health care.


6 Madeleine Begun Kane July 25, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Very well stated and so very true!


7 Talon July 26, 2011 at 10:20 pm

We take so much of our day-to-day existence with it’s plentiful and beautiful freedoms so often for granted. And thank you for the Margaret Mead quote, Belinda, because it is very very true. As long as someone takes the time to make an effort, the effort does truly count.


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