I am in awe of the women who write with the kind of angry fire that drives social justice movements forward.
I am enamored by the women who write about sexism with a flurry of curse words and wit and humor and whip-sharp intelligence.
I am impressed by women who run courses to dismantle white supremacy, who hold seminars and workshops to market in feminist ways, and who lead the forefront of movements important to me. It’s as if their anger and their fire and their sense of righteousness is there to blaze a new path for the world, and I love it. I support it.
These movements are important to me because they are important for sensitivity. See, patriarchy and sexism create an environment where sensitivity is devalued, which creates a world where us highly sensitive people feel threatened, demeaned, wrong, and under-valued for our sensitive gifts. In order to create more personal freedom – to truly uncensor our sensitivity – I believe I need to be part of these movements.
(It’s okay that you don’t want to be part of these movements – we all have something we want to stand up for. Even if that’s just ).
But I find I can’t write with that same fiery, angry passion. And I spent a while beating myself up about this.
I’ve spent a bunch of time wondering why I was so resistant and avoidant, why I couldn’t seem to take a stand and get angry in public and shake some folks down.
And then I realized – I’m not a siren. I’ve never been a mouthpiece. I’ve never been on the front lines. I always stood in the back, making a deep friendship with one other person in a crowded room, speaking quietly and earnestly about life and direction and where we go from here.
In other words – I’m a healer.
I was reminded, then, of something I studied in college (I have a master’s degree in environmental science). We discussed the differences between civil disobedience and within-the-system change for effectiveness around environmental issues. Think of civil disobedience like chaining yourself to a tree so it can’t be cut down, while within-system-change is like running for city council and working to make policy changes in your city.
Chaining yourself to a tree is much flashier. It’s sexy. It draws attention and causes outrage.
Working on the city council may be an arduous process of making friends, compomises, coming to agreements and playing politics. It’s mundane, it’s ordinary and it’s a slow process.
Which one creates change?
They both do, actually. They work hand-in-hand, although it doesn’t often look that way. Without the flashiness of civil disobedience, the public might not even know about an issue. If we don’t know about an issue, we can’t care, and if we can’t care then we can’t run for city council or mayor or senator and try to make the changes that put policy in place.
One informs the other. They work together as part of the same movement.
I think it’s the same with what’s happening now in these social justice movements.
Many of you have asked me how you could have a place within these movements. I don’t have any answers, except to allow yourself permission to find your way within them.
Are you the siren?
Are you chaining yourself to trees? Writing angry words and turning your back on potential allies?
Are you running for city council? Working with people one-on-one to create personal change? Are you doing healings in your backyard, writing letters to the editor, speaking up at family gatherings, writing poetry, challenging people online?