Two Kinds of Commitment

It is always important to remember that there are two levels of involvement and commitment to any movement for change.  On one level is the emotional commitment—the feeling that something is wrong and the willingness to do something to change it. There is also the intellectual level personified by a well-read, knowledgeable, thoughtful individual.  A group needs both levels of commitment to be effective.

(a) Those with the emotional commitment are the traditional activitists.  They are highly motivated and are anxious “to get involved'' to try to change conditions.  They normally have little historical perspective and are unalble to articulate the group goals. They are often, but not always, hot heads, and can be an embarrassment to your group.  They are important to your group, but must learn to subordinate their own interests to those of the larger group.

(b) The intellectual level requires individuals who understand the historical significance of the change being advocated. These people have a sophisticated understanding of the interrelationships, the nuances and the subtleties of the situation. Unfortunately, many intellectuals are unable to translate the thought into action and, therefore, are not helpful to a group. The ideal group leader has both an emotional and intellectual commitment (i.e., Martin Luther King, Jr. and Caesar Chavez) and can harness the energy of the emotions and the thoughtfulness of the intellect to give direction to a group. Unfortunately, few groups have such unique individuals as leaders. It is, therefore, the leader's task to be sure that both the emotional and intellectual commitment is present in the group. An overreliance on either will lead to a poorly thought out strategy and subsequent clumsy attempts at change or what may be called ''paralysis by analysis''—all thought and no action. Either result can be disastrous and counterproductive because it makes future attempts to organize much more difficult.

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