How to Translate Thoughts and Prayers Into Action

Find out how to Translate Ideas and Prayers Into Motion


Everyone knows the drill by now. One other mass taking pictures occurs in a faculty or a grocery retailer. This week, it was Uvalde, Texas. Two weeks in the past, it was a Buffalo, New York. After the shootings, social media feeds are flooded with ideas and prayers. Many individuals really feel an urge to do one thing, although the sheer enormity of the issue can simply overwhelm the perfect of intentions whereas the trail to alter stays unclear. Finally, the information cycle strikes on to one thing else till the subsequent taking pictures once we start this cycle once more.

Anne P. DePrince

2018 youth-led March for Our Lives in Chicago, IL

Supply: Anne P. DePrince

We’ve the facility to alter this acquainted sample—to translate ideas and prayers and urges to do one thing into motion that’s guided by analysis.

What Does Social Change Take?

Students and organizers writing about social actions have lengthy identified that social change requires an ever-growing group of people that see their shared curiosity within the situation at hand and are keen to take motion. Subsequently, an essential side of social change includes every of us determining our particular person curiosity within the situation in addition to partaking others to find their pursuits. From that collective curiosity, we are able to start to map out collaborative actions.

My colleagues on the College of Denver’s Heart for Neighborhood Engagement to advance Scholarship and Studying (CCESL) have a helpful shorthand for this method, breaking it down into 4 iterative steps: Assume. Join. Act. Mirror.

Let’s check out every as applies to gun violence.


As CCESL factors out, step one to social change includes us every doing our homework to study in regards to the situation for which we need to see change. Within the case of mass shootings, there’s essential analysis that ought to inform problem-solving. For instance:

  • The issue of mass shootings is linked to the issue of violence towards girls. For instance, analysis suggests that almost a 3rd of mass shooters have histories of perpetrating home violence. Amongst mass shooters, hostile views of girls and inflexible views of masculinity are widespread. As gun deaths elevated in recent times, girls have been the disproportionate victims, usually killed by intimate companions.
  • Gun availability issues. For instance, researchers have linked charges of intimate associate homicides to the variety of licensed firearm sellers in cities throughout the US. Weapons within the dwelling enhance the possibilities that girls shall be murdered by their intimate companions.
  • Arming extra folks is just not the reply, no less than in keeping with analysis with girls victimized by companions with weapons. These girls warned that bringing extra weapons into the house would enhance the hazard of ending up “lifeless or in jail.”
  • Insurance policies could make a distinction and save lives, in keeping with analysis on so-called purple flag legal guidelines and background checks.


As we study extra in regards to the situation for which we need to create change, the subsequent step is connecting with others. Within the case of gun violence, for instance, folks attempting to finish gun violence have pursuits in widespread with folks attempting to cease violence towards girls.

Connecting to folks in and throughout these teams is usually a highly effective step in constructing momentum for collaborative motion, as illustrated by my colleague Dr. Hava Gordon, a sociologist and social motion scholar. In her latest e-book, This Is Our College: Race and Neighborhood Resistance to College Reform, she drew on the instance of the 2019 LA Instructor Strikes, which concerned 34,000 academics. Lengthy earlier than the strike, the academics’ unions had constructed relationships with different teams, reminiscent of these organizing round migrant rights. Organizing beneath the banner of the widespread good, academics introduced the shared considerations of neighborhood members to the bargaining desk and ensured lively help from many neighborhood members, even because the strike wore on over six days. As Gordon identified, the relationships that academics constructed with others of their neighborhood who shared linked pursuits meant that the academics demanded and received extra within the bargaining course of than they might have with out these connections.


Constructing on what we study in regards to the situation and connections with others, we are able to start to determine collaborative actions. For instance:

  • As soon as we acknowledge that gun violence is linked with violence towards girls and inflexible gender beliefs, we would work with folks enthusiastic about each to make sure our communities supply prevention programming to help wholesome gender and relationship growth. Such prevention programming guarantees to lower gender-based violence and mass shootings.
  • We would staff up with individuals who have observed that gun violence analysis has been woefully underfunded in the US for many years to advocate for analysis that shall be essential to prevention.
  • We would become involved in legislative efforts to advance research-informed insurance policies that may save lives, reminiscent of restrictions on firearm possession after home violence.


Social change requires our essential reflection. Asking what labored, what didn’t work, and the way your method must evolve is crucial to progress and collaboration. We are able to replicate all through our work utilizing three simple-sounding questions: What? So what? Now what? These questions may also help us discover connections and implications of our actions in addition to how we’ll apply what we’ve realized going ahead.

The now-what query is a crucial reminder that social change efforts hardly ever have a end line. As a substitute, social change requires taking what we’ve realized and making use of it as we iterate by means of CCESL’s think-connect-act-reflect cycle. The subsequent time by means of, we’ll certainly have new data to convey to bear on problem-solving and concepts for brand new connections, constructing that ever-expanding community of individuals that’s so essential to social change.

Via that ever-expanding community, we construct our potential to find artistic, new approaches to collaborative change. That perception is on the root of my very own work displaying the connections between violence towards girls, gun violence, and different public issues. In writing Each 90 Seconds: Our Frequent Trigger Ending Violence In opposition to Ladies, I got here to imagine transformative change is feasible, even when it appears daunting at occasions. It begins with a saying sure to the invitation to think-connect-act-reflect.


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