Motivating the Status Quo Crowd: Meet Joe Status-quo

I am sitting in a Chick Fil A restaurant, eating my chicken biscuit. As expected, the news cycle has moved on. Chick Fil A owners still think the same way, and people still eat chicken, and people still don’t like Chick Fil A because the owners don’t support alternate views of marriage.

Amazon CEO still supports legalizing gay marriage. And there still hasn’t been anything on most conservatives radar about that. They are still buying Kindle books and everything else Amazon sells. It’s not because people have realized that boycotts really don’t work well. It’s because those in the status quo crowd, the people who are happy with the way things are, only really get motivated when they are personally effected by something.

Liberals get up in arms about a restaurant that serves chicken they like, stands for things they believe in, and exercises free speech? Sure, get a conservative talk show host to mention it a couple of times, and we can get this bandwagon rolling. The implication that free speech was threatened combined with possible loss of the good Jesus-chicken was enough to tip the scales toward action, at least for one day.

And then it’s back to status quo.

It’s easy to see why this is the case. The people trying to change the status quo are in a state of dissonance. Their immediate view of the world is not congruent with how the world is. So they act to change the world, in various ways.

Those in the status quo need do nothing, and their immediate view of the world is just fine. Threaten my chicken, and you get a response. The president I didn’t vote for says it’s time for gay marriage to be legal, and I barely acknowledge it. A state I don’t live in legalizes gay marriage, and I might care but I don’t actually do anything.

Because I’m comfortable in my status quo.

In fact, most people won’t be kicked into a dissonant state until something drastic happens in their own immediate view. Let me propose a for instance. I’ll use gay marriage and something which is happening in Denmark, (something similar will happen here eventually) as an example.

Joe Status-quo lives in a midwest state.

He voted with an overwhelming majority a prohibition of any kind of marriage except that between a man and woman. Later a judge rules that the referendum isn’t binding. Gay marriage isn’t legal, yet, but it’s not prohibited like the vote said. Joe doesn’t pay attention because things are basically the same to him. Besides he voted so he did his duty.

Later, after a series of lawsuits Joe doesn’t notice which remove the rest of the legal obstacles, the state legislation passes a bill that legalizes gay marriage. Joe hears about that, and is a little upset. But really, it doesn’t affect him personally. So aside from making a few crude jokes around the water cooler, he does nothing.

A couple of months later, the church Joe attends refuses to allow a gay couple to use their building to get married. The couple sues. After a long and expensive legal battle, a judge rules that the church has to allow all legal marriages to be performed on their private property. And as an added insult, the couple brings a civil suit for damages, and the church settles, paying the cost of the entire ceremony and reception.

Joe Status-quo finally is in a dissonant state. He is incensed. His first amendment rights have been trampled by the state. He looks around, but discovers it’s too late to stop anything. By the time Joe Status-quo looks outside his immediate view, things have gone too far.

Here’s what I want to say to Joe before this, or something like it, happens:

Dear Joe,

If you like your life, you had better pay attention. That commotion on the fringes is your way of life unravelling. Every thread brings it closer you where you are. As the old saying goes, “A stitch in time saves nine.” Broaden your view now, before it’s too late to do anything about it. The people trying to change your way of life are active right now. Pay attention.