When change happens in our lives, organizations, or communities, it often happens either because we are pushed away from something and/or because we are pulled toward something different. In my personal life, I felt pushed away from my job as an executive director but it wasn’t until I re-envisioned the Fruition Coalition that I was able to make a change. I am currently feeling pushed from my current home and pulled toward something different. Once we start to feel pulled, the possibility for detachment emerges. We then become free to reattach to a new and better reality. Push is external and repellant. Pull is internally driven and is a magnetic attraction. Push creates disorder while pull seeks to create a new harmonious state.
I have committed the soft suicide of self-denial for much of my life. I have been intentionally moving along the path from self-sacrifice to self-transcendence. Self-sacrifice is a dichotomous zero-sum game; according to this belief, what I lose or forfeit the world gains. Self-transcendence includes the self as part of a greater whole. I am choosing to live my life in a way that is spiritually and materially sustainable and life affirming in every way. I am acting with integrity out of love rather than with disunion out of guilt. If we all cooperatively are what we truly desire based on differentiation rather than competition, the whole will benefit overall. What would it take to live in complete, consistent self- and other-affirming integrity?
Many spiritual teachers, and social constructionists, contend that we create the world around us through the language we use, whether or not it is intentional, in both our minds and in our conversations. In accordance with this principle, we gain weight when we obsess over how overweight we are and we lose lovers when we jealously obsess over other potential mates.
Of the Ten Commandments, 80% of them tell us what not to do (I am not sure of the percentage of the 613 commandments but if you have this information please share!). They are negatively stated; for example, do not kill and do not commit adultery. Every law of which I am aware is similarly structured: they forbid specific actions. It doesn’t seem to be working, because people break laws every minute of every day. Do negative laws beget negative acts?
What if laws articulated what we should do rather than what we shouldn’t do? Rather than do not kill, we would say honor the sanctity of all people and living things. Wow. What kind of world would be possible if our formal and informal laws were based on doing right rather than not doing wrong?
I can think of two reasons why our laws are negatively stated: tradition and efficiency. Are these our most important values as a society?
While we may not have the authority to immediately transform all laws to the affirmative, we can make changes through our everyday experiences. In our own lives, we can make decisions based on possibility rather than limitation. In our families, we can create shared understandings that dignify rather than criminalize. In our organizations, we can develop policies that truly reflect our values. Doing so might transform our lives and our world.
While race blindness is becoming so taboo that it is almost a cliche (at least in my mind), gender blindness does not seem to share this social understanding. Is there a difference? Why or why not? Do you think we should strive to be aware rather than blind in these and other areas, or are there times when it is better to homogenize (I really do welcome dialogue on this horribly loaded question!)?
I love Karl Marx and his work has greatly influenced my political views and my understanding of the world. As I mature, I find myself becoming more uncomfortable with his emphasis on materialism. While the material conditions of our lives impact us in innumerable ways, so do other forms of capital such as intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual capital. Each type of capital is critical to our well-being on its own; they also interact and build upon each other. They are interdependent to some extent, though not necessarily in a linear or measurable way. When any one of these is deficient, the others lose relevance. Material capital, which is the emphasis of much political thought and organizing, is perhaps the least important of these five forms of capital. While the other forms of capital are often neglected or overlooked, sometimes implicit or explicit assumptions are made about their existence and importance. In creating a taxonomy of capital, I am not sure how I would order the other four types of capital. It seems that relationships are important, but they are based on intellect and emotions. Perhaps it isn’t important or helpful to place them in order, but rather to recognize that they are all present. And maybe it is inappropriate to use a capitalist word to describe these other resources. What do you think?
One of my favorite social scientists, Kurt Lewin, developed a theory about the process of change. He suggested that change consists of three steps: unfreezing, changing, and refreezing the new social understanding or condition. I think social change work is the process of intentionally and continually unfreezing ideas, assumptions, myths, and practices through inquiry and dialogue and then letting go to see what naturally unfolds. Through this process, we can cooperatively live open-ended lives with no right answers. No dogma, no power struggles, just peace.
When I was about 12 years old, I wrongly, but subconsciously, believed it was socially advantageous to minimize my intellectual capacities. This led to abhorrent behavior that drifted away along with adolescence. Yet, a part of me has retained this damaging belief about myself and the world: that it is somehow better to be less than I truly am and that it serves the world to downplay my unique abilities. While this makes little intellectual sense, this myth has manifested itself in my daily interactions with others, primarily in work situations (which ironically is how I spend most of my time). With some space and reflection, I realize that I have dumbed and numbed myself down so much, little by little, in order to survive that I feel as though a big part of me has died. It has become a bad habit as well as a negative way of being in the world.
For the past five months, detached from official external organizational affiliations, I have allowed my true self to start emerging. I have felt overwhelmingly isolated, rejected, and misunderstood. Yet, I also realize that this resistance is an important part of my growth. From now on, I’m playing smart (hence the new Fruition Coalition mottoes Wisdom is Bliss and Radiate Brilliance) regardless of the outcome. I am going to enjoy the process of being me.