The concept of Pillars of Support was developed by civil resistance trainers who realized that the military, schools, civil service and courts, business community, churches, and media, are some of the main pillars that give structural stability to the status quo. If enough of these institutions pull their support, the system will collapse, and the movements will succeed.
Mark Engler, author of This Is an Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt Is Shaping the Twenty-First Century, writes:
In a democratic society, the result of the pillars falling might not be a change of regime, and yet the results can be just as profound: the removal of social supports for the status quo can mean the end of a system such as Jim Crow segregation, for example.
The pillars allow for better strategic thinking on the part of those trying to force change. Activists can more clearly predict what it will take for a regime to fall. They can scheme about how they might undermine one or more of the various sources of social support for the system—removing the backing of the clergy, for example, or prodding the press to adopt a more critical posture—and thus place the rulers on an ever-wobblier foundation.
I partner with Georgia Interfaith Power and Light to lead Sacred Activism workshops, because I love to help people experience our interconnectedness, and tap into their inherent gifts so that they can be joyous stewards of creation. I also believe in GIPL’s mission of engaging communities of faith in creation care, because history has shown the power and efficacy of religious institutions when they challenge the status quo.
If we advocate for a world where people and the planet are factored into policies at least as much as profits, we will co-create a sustainable, peaceful, and equitable future where all beings can thrive.