The Story of UsNovember 8, 2011 Leave a comment
Last Friday, I had the privilege of facilitating Alta Starr’s Funder Briefing on New Paradigms in Organizing for Social Transformation. It was a rich event. Organizers, funders and capacity builders from across the nation came together to explore their work at the intersection of personal transformation and systemic change. The field is definitely shifting! We are seeing progress and experimentation towards a more holistic approach to the quest for social justice.
I was affected by the idea that one of the obstacles to collective mobilization is the way we individuate our stories. In the United States, the otherwise powerful idea of personal responsibility has been taken to such an extreme that we actually blame ourselves when we are not thriving in a broken economy. We think it must be our fault; we carry personal shame for being hit by a foreclosure crisis.
To be very clear – I am all for personal responsibility. But this should not keep me from seeing the ways in which I’m caught in a system that is not working for most people – 99% anyone? This is one of the reasons whey it is so important to share our stories. When we share out stories it becomes possible to go from “the story of me, to the story of us,” as Marshall Ganz likes to say.
Here is a bold proposition: do not to attempt to do any work for social justice without making the time for your stakeholders to share their stories with each other. I learned this from the Student Immigrant Movement and it was confirmed by our conversation at the Funder Briefing.
Here is another example, one that you will resonate with even if you have managed to thrive in our broken economy. I am co-facilitating the first session of Rockwood’s Leading from the Inside Out yearlong intensive. Last night Robert Gass was training on personal ecology.
If you have a job, you are drowning in work. Few of us are keeping up. But again, most of us blame ourselves. Yes – there is too much to do! But so many of us think it is our failure that we are not superhuman, or super efficient machines, that could maybe do it all if we were just a bit more organized, just a bit more disciplined. But here too we have a broken system, an industrial relationship to work, an unsustainable relationship to life itself. Share your story. Realize you are not alone. Let’s get together to re-define the status quo.