The Embodiment of Change #1: Are You Fierce?

The Embodiment of Change #1: Are You Fierce?

In this new series, I choose one element of world-changing leadership, deconstruct it, and offer practices to build it.

Element 1: Devotion to truth

Leaders who are fierce are guided by more than their personal desires and preferences (though they factor those in too).

They are keen observers, listening to reality. They give up on wishing things were different, so they can fully take in exactly how things are.

The Freedom Trap: Where Conversations About Cultural Appropriation Go To Die

The Freedom Trap: Where Conversations About Cultural Appropriation Go To Die

I took this photo in Thailand in January, outside a Buddhist temple. I loved it so much, I probably took 15 photos of this one umbrella.

And I’ve been wanting to use it as a starting point for a post on how cultural appropriation comes up for progressives and liberals. But it took me a while to sort out my mixed feelings on the topic.

Because from my view in the San Francisco Bay Area, I see how cultural appropriation plays out in weird ways within progressive enclaves. 

And I think we need better conversations about this.

Become a passionate force for belonging in a world that needs it

Become a passionate force for belonging in a world that needs it

What drives your passion for social justice? 

In one form or another, it's always been there for me. When I was a kid, I'd feel it pretty intensely anytime I saw someone being judged, excluded, or bullied for being different, by both teachers and students.

Sometimes I'd get pissed. Sometimes I'd feel scared, and sometimes I'd feel nauseous. It wasn't until I was older that I connected the dots, and saw how that strong reaction was linked to my own experience of feeling like a misfit. 

And every now and then, I'd find the courage to take a stand.

Infographic: Love + Strength in Social Justice Organizing

Infographic: Love + Strength in Social Justice Organizing

There are two big ways we tend to view political organizing. One approach is from a place of strength. The other is from love.

  • Strength is setting and enforcing boundaries that protect what we hold dear. It’s also containing, neutralizing or marginalizing the opponent.
     
  • Love is acceptance, compassion, and a humanizing force. It’s also engaging and persuading the opponent.

I have written about this before, and I put together the infographic below to illustrate what Carl Jung called “the tension of opposites.”  

It’s a big topic, but to help boil things down, I focused on this question:

How do you deal with people who say or do racist things?

Activism as Ritual: A Reclamation of Love and Justice

Activism as Ritual: A Reclamation of Love and Justice

Caro Acuña is a dear old friend of mine. We met while working at a nonprofit in Berkeley. I was 22 and pretty confused about life. She was 30 something, and she struck me as having more wisdom and heart than just about anyone I’d met.

One afternoon I asked for her help with a troublesome relationship. She sat down with me in the shade of a tree, and taught me the concept of emotional boundaries. It was a revelation.

I couldn’t get enough of her. Still can’t.