What is the meaning of the following quote by Margaret Mead about social change?
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever does.
Margaret Mead makes the argument that real change comes from the ground up, not the top down. The public--people--outnumber the government representatives we send to Washington to do our bidding. If and when something is considered important enough to fight for, we stand up, make ourselves heard, and effect change. We do this with petitions, lobbyists, marches, strikes, and organizations like the Tea Party.
The way to make these changes, and to make them stick, is to be thoughtful, intelligent, calm, and committed. Violence never makes permanent change. People only listen to those who are armed with intelligent, well-thought-out, and professional argurments backed with convincing evidence. Mead's third point targets being committed. The people can not make a stand only once and expect change to miraculously occur. They must be committed, sometimes over months and even years to get the change they seek.
What Margaret Mead is arguing here is that important changes never come from the top (government) down. Instead, she says, such changes come from the bottom (people). These changes come about only when the people push their leaders to do things that change the world.
As an example of why someone might say this, look at the Civil Rights Movement. African Americans did not get rights by having government simply decide that they should have those rights. Instead, they only won their rights by being thoughtful and committed to the nonviolent protest strategy of the Civil Rights Movement.
So, Mead's statement argues that real change in the world comes from the people, often in the form of social movements, not from government.