Sinead O’Connor was both wrong and right.

In 1992, this Irish singer took a stand against the Roman Catholic Church for abusing children, yet when she did so, she failed to make a connection to her audience. Instead of  just telling people what the problem was, she tried to shock people as a way of getting their attention. That only damaged her career.

Soon afterwards, she made an public appearance where she was booed by the audience. They simply did not understand or  appreciate what she’d been trying to warn them about.

Nearly two decades and many more abused children later, O’Connor corrected herself with an appearance on CNN. By now, most people were ready to listen to her and she spoke about the issue with grace and understanding, as she should have done in the first place.

Let this be an object lesson for activists of all types: You CANNOT force people to listen to what they are simply not ready to hear, and both timing and method are crucial to make your case. Ripping up a picture of the Pope did no good. Ripping up the Pope in writing or speech detailing what he may have done wrong does and always will do good.

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