Notes from Chapter 8 of the Power of Habit

## Saddleback Church and the Montgomery Bus Boycott (244)

> It was Thursday, December 1, 1555, in Montgomery, Alabama and she has just finished a long day at Montgomery Fair, the department store where she worked as a seamstress. The bus was crowded and, by law, the first four rows were reserved for white passengers. The area where blacks were allowed to sit, in the back, was already full and so the woman—**Rosa Parks**— sat in a center row, right behind the white section, where either race could claim a seat (p.215)

The process of social movements (p.217) requires convergence of 3 parts:

1. Start: Social habits of friendships, and strong ties between close acquaintances
2. Growth: Habits of community, and the weak ties that hold neighborhoods and clans together.
3. Endures: Movement leaders give participants new habits that create fresh sense of identity and feeling of ownership

### Start: Habits of Friendships and Strong Ties (1)

Rosa Parks wasn’t the first:

* Geneva Johnson (1946) for talking back over seating
* Viola White, Katie Wingfield, and two black children ere arrested (1949)
* two black teenagers from NJ jailed (1949)
* Montgomery policeman shot and killed black man arguing with bus driver (1942)
* Claudette Colvin arrested (1955)
* Mary Louise Smith arrested (1955).

> “There weren’t many real activists in Montgomery at the time,” **Taylor Branch**, the Pulitzer Prize-winning civil rights historian, told me. “People didn’t mount protests or marches. Activism was something that happened in courts. It wasn’t something average people did.”… “Montgomery was a pretty nasty place,” Branch said.” Racism was set in its ways there.” (p.219-19)

Difference:

1. political climate was shifting: ex. Brown v. Board of Education (1954) & Brown II (1955)
2. Rosa Parks was unique: deeply respected and embedded within community => trigger for social habit of friendship.

Roles Rosa Parks had:

* secretary of local NAACP
* attended Methodist church
* oversee youth org at Lutheran Church
* weekends volunteering at shelter
* botanical club
* wednesday nights women’s group that knit blankets for hospital
* volunteer dressmaking to poor families
* last-minute gown alterations for wealthy white debutants

**”Strong ties”**: firsthand relationships that spanned a diverse group of social and economic hierarchies (p220)

* called wife of *E.D. Nixon*: former head of Montgomery NAACP
* E.D. Nixon called *Clifford Durr* who knew Parks because she hemmed dresses for his 3 daughters [both waiting for a case to challenge bus segregations]
* *Jo Ann Robinson* president of schoolteachers and friend of Park’s suggested boycott and mimeographed fluers

> Studies show that people have no problem ignoring strangers’ injuries, but when a friend is insulted, our sense of outrage is enough to overcome the inertia that usually makes protests hard to organize.

### Growth: Habits of community and Weak Ties (2)

Growth is sustained by converting Strong ties => **”The Power of weak ties”: aka social peer pressure. (p.222)

> In the late 1960s, a Harvard PhD student named **Mark Granoveter** set out to answer the question [of job referral network] by studying how 282 men had found their current employment…Most surprising, however, was how often job hunters also received help from casual acquaintances—friends of friends—people who were neither strangers nor close pals. Granovetter called those connections “weak ties,” because they represented the links that connect people who have acquaintances in common, who share membership in social networks, but aren’t directly connected by the strong ties of friendship themselves. In fact, in landing a job, Granovetter discovered, weak-tie acquaintances were often *more* important that strong-tie friends because weak ties give us access to social networks where we don’t otherwise belong…which makes sense because we talk to our closest friends all the time, or work alongside them…On the other hand, our weak-tie acquaintances—the people we bump into every six months—are the ones who tell us about jobs we would otherwise never hear about.

> “…the problem is, without weak ties, any momentum generated in [through direct recruitment within a clique] does not spread *beyond* the clique. As a result, most of the population will be untouched.”

*Peer pressure* (p225): “In adult life, it’s how business gets done and communities self-organize.”

* the social habits that encourage people to conform to group expectations
* = dozens of individual habits
* often spread through weak ties
* gain authority through communal expectations (the risk of loss of social standing) [ex. “don’t give a caller looking for a job a helping hand, he might complain to his tennis partner, who might mention those grumblings to someone in the locker room who youw ere hoping to attack as a client.”

Ex. Mississippi Summer Project @ northern universities (1964) studied by *Doug McAdam* (p.226): Difference among applicants between ~300 that stayed home vs. participants:

* No difference between self-interested and object-oriented motivations
* No correlations for opportunity costs (girlfriends, jobs, etc.)
* Participants hard close friends *and* casual acquaintances expected them to get on the bus. (mixed participation for those who mentioned religious orientation as motivator. But 100% among motivation *and* belonging to religious organization)

> “Now it’s six months later and departure day is almost here. All the magazines are predicting violence in Mississippe. You called your parents, and they told you to stay at home.…Then you’re walking across campus and you see a bunch of people from your church group, and they say, ‘We’re coordinating rides—when should we pick you up?’ These people aren’t your closest friends…They all know you’ve been accepted to Freedom Summer, and that you’ve said you wanted to go. Good luck pulling out at that point.”

E.D. Nixon calls *Martin Luther King, Jr.* (p.229-30) with mixed results and reaches out to *Ralph D. Abernathy* (one of King’s closest friends). Then second call to King causes him to relent. Organizes King to meet with 18 other people.

> The boycott and impromptu rally at the courthouse were the most significant black political activism in Montgomery’s history, and it had all come together in five days. It had started among Park’s closest friends, but it drew its powers, King and other participants later said, because of a sense of obligation among the community—the social habits of weak ties. The community was pressured toe rand together for fear that anyone who didn’t participate wasn’t someone you wanted to be friends with in the first place. (p.232)

### Sustaining a movement: Creating of new habits and sense of identity and ownership (3)

> Then those worries [about sustaining movement] would evaporate. King, like thousands of other movement leaders, would shift the struggle’s guidance from his hands onto the shoulders of his followers, in large part by handing them new habits. He would activate the third part of the movement formula, and the boycott would become a self-perpetuating force. (p.232)

*Rick Warren*, Baptist pastor, mosses to Saddleback Valley in Orange County, CA (1979) because it is fastest-growing region in fastest-growing county of one of the fastest-growing states.

Influenced by *Donald McGavran* who felt missionaries should move into unchurched areas and imitate tactics of other successful movements—including the civil rights campaign—by appealing to people’s social habits.
Third Stage, Rick Warren (p.232)

> “We’ve thought long and hard about habitulizing faith, breaking it down into pieces,” Warren told me. “If you try to scare people into following Christ’s example, it’s not going to work for too long. The only way you get people to take responsibility for their spiritual maturity is to teach them *habits* of faith. Once that happens,t hey become self-feeders. People follow Christ not because you’ve led them there, but because it’s who they are.” (p.234-235)

1. started by interviewing people why they didn’t go to charge (boring, bad music, non-useful sermons, child care needs, dress requirements, uncomfortable pews)
2. address complaints (wear shorts and Hawaiian shirts, added electric guitar, practical topics for sermons: “How to Raise Healthy Families” “How to Survive Under Stress.”
3. 18 hours/day work caused him to faint: anxiety attack recovery vowed make running church less work
4. asked church members host Bible study classes in home (worked well because they got to meet neighbors)
5. Problem: people talked about families. So created a curriculum to teach new habits.

Weak ties => Strong Ties => Habits => Self-propelled/directed

> “The congregation and the small groups are like a one-two punch. You have this big crowd to remind you why you’re doing this in the first place, and a small group of close friends to help you focus on how to be faithful. Together, they’re like glue. We have over five thousand small groups now. It’s the only thing that makes a church this size manageable.”

Start with Weak Ties (sense of community) => Strong Ties of small groups compel participation where their faith becomes an aspect of their social experience and daily lives.

> one of Saddleback’s course manuals reads. “All of us are simply a bunch of habits … Our goal is to help you replace some bad habits with some good habits that will help you grow in Christ’s likeness.” Every Saddleback member is asked to sign a “maturity covenant card” promising to adhere to three habits: daily quiet time for reflection and prayer, tithing 10 percent of their income, and membership in a small group. Giving everyone new habits has become a focus of the church. (p.238)

> “We’ve given you a recipe,” Warren told me. “We don’t have to guide you, because you’re guiding yourself. These habits become a new self-identity, and, at that point, we just need to support you and get out of your way.”…Warren needed to teach people habits that caused them to live faithfully not because of their ties, but because it’s who they are. This is the third aspect of how social habits drive movements: For an idea to grow beyond a community, it must become self-propelling. And the surest way to achieve that is to give people new habits that help them figure out where to go on their own. (p238-9)

Back to Civil Rights: nonviolence as a lens, self-directed units (p.240-41)

> It was the message of nonviolence that King had been preaching for weeks. Its themes, which drew not he writings of Gandhi and Jesus’s sermons, was in many ways an argument listeners [people about to riot in front of King’s house after bomb explosion] hadn’t heard in this context before, a plea for nonviolent activism, overwhelming love and forgiveness of their attackers, and a promos that it would bring victory. For years, the civil rights movement had been kept alive by couching itself in the language of battles and struggles…King gave people **a new lens**. THis wasn’t a war, he said. It was an embrace.
>
> Equally important, King cast the boycott in a new and different light. This was not just about equality on buses, King said; it was part of God’s plan, the same destiny that had ended British colonialism in India and slavery in the United States, and that had caused Christ to die on the cross so that he could take away our sins. It was the newest stage in a movement that had started centuries earlier. And as such, it required new responses, different strategies, and behaviors. It needed participants to offer the other cheek. People could show their allegiance by adopting the new habits King was evangelizing about.

Speech resulting in less phone calls to King, people self-organized and took leadership of boycott. When more bombs, the same pattern was repeated. ==> **Self-directed unity**.

> “They took Christian teachings and made them political,” Taylor Branch told me. “A movement is a saga. For it to work, everyone’s identity has to change. People in Montgomery had to learn a new way to act.”

(a la AA: power form group meetings where addicts learn new habits and start to believe by watching others demonstrate their faith)

> “People went to see how other people were handling it,” said Branch. “You start to see yourself as part of a vast social enterprise, and after a while, you really believe you are.”

> When ninety people were indicted by a grand jury, almost all of them rushed to the courthouse to present themselves for arrest. Some people went to the sheriff’s office to see if their names were on the list and were “disappointed when they were not,” King later wrote. “A once fear-ridden people had been transformed.” … “Instead of stopping the movement, the opposition’s tactics had only served to give it greater momentum, and to draw us closer together,” King wrote.

> Embedded within King’s philosophy was a *new set of behaviors that converted participants from followers into self-directing leaders.* These are not habits as we congenitally think about them. However, when King recast Montgomery’s struggle by giving protesters a new sense of self-identity, the protest became a movement field by people who were acting because they had *taken ownership* of a historic event. And that social pattern, over time, *became automatic and expanded to other places and groups of students and protestors* whom King never met, but who could take on leadership of the movement *simply by watching how its participants habitually behaved.* (p.243)

* new set of behaviors
* convert participants into self-directed leaders
* create sense of self-identity to take ownership
* becomes automatic and expands to other places
* others learn by watching how participants behaved

> When President **Lyndon Johnson** signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964—which outlawed all forms of segregation as well as discrimination against minorities and women—he equated the civil rights activists to the nation’s founders, a comparison that, a decade earlier, would have been political suicide. “One hundred and eighty-eight years ago this week, a small band of valiant men began a long struggle for freedom,” he told television cameras. “How our generation of Americans has been called to continue the unending search for justice within our own borders.” (p.244)

Published by

tychay

light writing, word loving, ❤ coding

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *