Monthly Series on Cultural Shift by Linda Stout
As I write this morning, I’m struck by the contradictions in our lives. I look out at the beautiful Cherry and Red Bud trees in full bloom and celebrate with joy the coming Spring. I look at the news and feel overwhelmed with images of bombs, guns, people hurting, and the ongoing onslaught of violence and hatred in our country.
I am so excited about work we’ve been able to accomplish in Spirit in Action this past year. Our dynamic work includes building powerful networks, helping make changes in communities and organizations, building trust and bridges between groups who often don’t work together, and creating leaders of the future. Unfortunately, such tremendous organizational strides have been counter-balanced with struggles and sufferings of the people we work with, staff overload of work, and the pressure of facing decreasing funding as we try to do more and more work.
So how do we continue to hold hope and determination to move forward in the face of all that is so hard? How do we counter the huge forces with billions of dollars that are working successfully at undoing the steps we have made toward justice over our lifetimes?
I believe it is possible. It is also imperative. And, counter to some thinking, I don’t believe it is too late.
Although we have many progressive groups actively working for justice, there are an increasing number of people who are disheartened. This disillusionment stems from a place of mis-information and mis-education in addition to oppression and poverty, which leads to hopelessness and lack of civic engagement that would improve people’s lives. It is up to us to reach this group of disenfranchised population. Research shows us that the majority of these folks also share values that coincide with ours. But to reach these people requires a major cultural shift in how we think about our approach and the messaging in our work.
We must also strive to address the whole: mind, body and spirit. This requires holding hope, love, and joy while we work to create a world that is equitable, just and sustainable. It means “walking our talk” and living into the future we want to create.
For us to do this work and bring people into our work for positive change, we ourselves must seek balance and joy in our own lives in order to create a future that works for all.
I can hear some readers asking “how can I do that? How can we hold that balance?”
For today, just take some time to be grateful for the beauty around you and to others who support and give love to you. Take deep breaths and connect to what inspires you on a day to day basis. Remember when and why you first started working for justice. Try this practice every day this month for 5 minutes when you wake up. Notice what difference it makes in how your work takes on new meaning.
In the following month this year, I will include a blog giving ideas and exercises toward making the cultural shift on how to reach beyond the choir and build our base to include others we don’t usually think of as part of our movement but who are natural allies. You will learn about a new approach or how to do one thing differently that will make your work more successful in reaching others.