Don’t get me wrong.

I think it’s a good thing that some kind of international agreement about human rights is in place. And the work that organizations like Amnesty International are doing in saving lives is really important.

It’s good that you can go to court for human rights. Somewhere. I don’t really know where. I’m not an expert on those kinds of things.

Because I think there’s stuff out there that’s a lot MORE effective. And I rather focus on that.

Here’s why.

Every kind of society is in its core built upon human relationships. Human relationships plus the rules and conventions in a society.

Legal strategies focus on rules and conventions. On entitlement. They divide. They dehumanize the “offender”.

But the actual transformative power lies in building quality human relationships. That’s when unjust conventions become irrelevant and true solutions are co-created.

The best way to eliminate your enemy is to make him your friend. – Abraham Lincoln

I say it again: Hearts aren’t opened by entitlement. They are won by being touched.

That’s why one of the most essential changemaker skills is practical psychology, is finding ways to an honest heart-to-heart-connection even in the tensest of situations.

There is an American scholar called Scott Sherman (thanks Matthias for introducing me to his work) who did 10 years of research, comparing over 100 different social change initiatives, analysing what actually works and what doesn’t. (You can read a 22-page introduction here, it’s a really great read.)

He backs this up:

After reviewing dozens of cases across the country, I found that legal strategies were one of the factors most strongly correlated with failure. When people went to court, they almost always lost.

Perhaps this shouldn’t be surprising. After all, many of these citizens had little access to money or powerful attorneys; they couldn’t afford the legal costs. “Poor people have access to the courts,” quipped one judge in Texas, “in the same sense that Christians had access to the lions when they were dragged into a Roman arena.”

Most people want to contribute to a better world. Yes, even corporate suits and politicians. (Though they might not be aware of it yet.)

We just need to support them in finding a way that’s authentic and fun.

That’s when we won’t need to rely on human rights legislation anymore.

What do you think? Do you agree? Am I crazy? Let me know in the comments below.

(This is the article of day 4 of the 30 day blog challenge. To be notified of new posts, subscribe to the mailinglist on the right.)