Barefooters sometimes wonder what they can do to help diminish the impact of those in society who make it difficult to go barefoot in public. Sometimes it seems like an impossible task — I hear suggestions for a horde of barefooters to descend on a location. The trouble with that is that barefooters are pretty scattered (and they also tend to be rather independent).
But I came across a blog entry yesterday that suggests it might not be quite that hopeless.
That article, in another context entirely, talks about the “Rule of Three”. What it notes is that, for a non-dominant group (and note that I am not saying that barefooters are oppressed in anything close to the degree that those in the article are), when there are just one or two of the different people it is easy for the majority to just ignore them and disparage them.
The example in the article discusses the recent Supreme Court argument on abortion clinics in Texas in which having 3 female Supreme Court Justices seemed to really tip the dynamics of the discussion.
The article then goes back to an older observation of the Rule of Three: The Magic of 3 in Business.
Here’s how that other article starts:
To understand the rule of 3 and how it operates I Invite you to step back in time with me. We’re seated next to each other in a graduate school classroom. The professor is leading a discussion on race as a factor in medical/psychiatric diagnoses. Lots of white students participate in the conversation. There are two black students in the class. They remain silent.
I’m puzzled and disappointed. We lost the opportunity to hear a non-white perspective on a racial issue. I’m curious about why this happened, so I seek out the professor. She references social science research. “Until three members of the non-dominant group are present, they typically will not speak up, and if they do they will often not be heard.” I tuck this tidbit away without knowing why or how I will use it later.
How might this apply to barefooters?
Normally, when we are being challenged in stores or restaurants, we’re all alone. Or we might be part of just a small group, so we are really perceived as out there.
But let me try to imagine the sort of thinking that might go on in someone’s head who witnessed three separate barefooters in a store. When I try to put myself into the shoes of a hostile shoddie, here’s the internal conversation I imagine:
Hey, there’s a barefoot person in here. Icky. I should really call it to the attention of management. I’ll do it in just a second . . .
Oh, my. There is now a second person. What’s wrong with those people? Management really needs to know about this.
A third person? I guess this is something management must know about and allow. I guess I’ll have to put up with it even if I don’t like it.
It’s the third person that puts it over the edge. And that may be something that we, even with limited numbers, have a chance of doing and effecting some sort of change.
Finally, when I first presented this idea, a friend (H/T Mike B.) noted the similar of the Rule of 3 to a standard joke meme (and the meme itself may play on the Rule of 3, right?): Three Xes walk into a bar . . .
So, here’s my attempt at that.
Three barefooters walk into a bar. The first one says, “Think our arch-enemy will try to kick us out?” The second one says, “He might make us toe the line.” The third one replies, “Nope. He’s now soled on the concept.”