Tag Archive: paradox

December 17, 2018

Weaving Webs of Possibility: The Moral Imagination in Social Change

Image by Graylight, used under provisions of Creative Commons Attribution license 2.0.

As I was just starting work at IISC, back in 2005, our founding Executive Director Marianne Hughes, introduced the staff to the work of John Paul Lederach, and specifically his book The Moral Imagination. As I recall, she did this as a result of a sabbatical during which she explored the power of networks and of art in social change. These two things show up centrally in Lederach’s work. Lederach has spent years doing peace and reconciliation work in some of the most intense and entrenched conflicts in the world. And he writes not really as a master technician, but as a poet, which is very much by intention.

I thought of The Moral Imagination a couple of months ago, when I began to realize how starved many people I meet seem to be for alternatives to what we currently have as mainstream systems in this country. Many are speaking up against and resisting what is not working, has long been unjust, and is fundamentally sustainable, which is crucial. And in the absence of clear alternatives (see “reimagine” and “recreate” in Spirit in Action’s image below), what can ensue is … conflict. Entrenched conflict, with no creative point of release.

I also thought of Lederach’s book, because he writes how central networks, human webs, and authentic human connection is to the work of peacebuilding and reconciliation. Up until recently I had thought about peacebuilding as a field as having more to do with what goes on in “other places” like Ireland, Sudan, Colombia, Tajikistan. If nothing else, these past couple of years have provided a need to adjust that understanding – peacebuilding is needed at home.

So I’ve been scouring Lederach’s writings, and there is a lot that resonates. Lederach was recently featured on a powerful program of On Being with actress and activist America Ferrera (no doubt another reason he has been on my mind). There is much to say about The Moral Imagination, but for now I am offering some passages and quotes that struck a chord and I’m curious to hear what reactions those reading have … Read More

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February 20, 2013

Mischief-Making for Change

“The trickster is anybody who’s a bit of an outsider. They’re the ones who make change. They’re not thinking about making change; they’re almost doing it in a selfish way. But because they’re working outside the rules, they change the rules. Everything around them is always new, everything is an opportunity.”

Angela Cheng

Over the long weekend, my wife and I spent some time looking through the archives of old TED talks and stumbled upon a great one from humorist-philosopher Emily Levine where she talks about the important role of the trickster in facilitating change. Read More

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May 19, 2011

Feedback and Favoring Truth

“Our ability to live in reality is essential.

But that takes some training.”

-Robert Fritz

If you have followed this blog in the past week and a half, you know that the IISC staff completed an intense and valuable retreat last week, focused on issues of power and privilege as they manifest in our organization and connect to the ways that we show up and are perceived in the world beyond our walls.  Last time I blogged about this event, I mentioned my take-away about the challenge and importance of embracing paradox.  With a week’s worth of time now to reflect, I am happy to report that the conversation continues internally among staff, and I for one am seeing movement.   There is plenty of dialogue about how to keep the momentum going, to maintain and firm up our hold on the individual and collective truths we accessed last week.

It turns out that one commonly shared insight about staying on track was, drum roll please . . . Read More

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May 11, 2011

Embrace Paradox

paradox

|Photo by Arenamontanus|http://www.flickr.com/photos/arenamontanus/282327168|

Coming off of a couple of powerful days exploring power and privilege in the internal life and external work of the Interaction Institute for Social Change.  So much still to process, and one of my immediate take-aways was our facilitators’ invitation to embrace paradox in the form of different perspectives and experiences, intentions and impacts, stated and espoused values.  As one of our process agreements for our time together stated – “All of us, individually and collectively, embody paradox- identities, beliefs, and experiences that seem to contradict each other.”  As has been stated elsewhere on this blog, and more elegantly by my colleague Gibran Rivera, the invitation is to hold apparent contradictions and tension long enough for something new to emerge, that moves us down the evolutionary path.

I leave you with the words of Gunilla Norris, from her book Sharing Silence, that came our way via OpenSource Leadership. Read More

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August 24, 2009

Hope Born of Paradox

Eduardo Galeano is a man who really gets us to look at a new angle. And that is really what we need now right, new angles. New ways of thinking. New attempts at approaching the same problems that have plagued our history. A friend of mine tweeted this NPR article about Galeano’s current days, back home in Uruguay. It is short and sweet, and worth a read.

Galeano is famous for exploiting the beauty in contradictions, while at the same time being a forceful voice against injustice, poverty and war. One of his most famous writings entails the line, “Courage is born of fear, certainty of doubt”.  The article mentioned above, explores one of the short stories of history which Galeano recounts in his new book Mirrors. Read More

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