A gathering place for readers, writers, and other advocates for a more just world

Posts tagged ‘People power’

What is the difference between inspiration and persuasion?

In my opinion, it’s the difference between temporarily moving people to buy or do something, often for good, but not making it become their way of life. Inspiration is a catalyst to change lives and worlds.

I would like my students (and me!) to become adept at inspiring, even more than persuading audiences, yet how do we know when we’ve moved beyond persuading? Our textbook gives an example of a sales manager introducing the advantages and potential of a new product, and calls it both inspirational and persuasive. I disagree!  I only see it as persuasive.  So what is inspiration?

I’ve been thinking about this question ever since Kendra, one of my students, asked about the difference when I proposed an inspirational speech for this final week of class. For examples, I showed excerpts from the park scene in “Good Will Hunting”) where Robin Williams tells off young Matt Damon; and  a reading by Stacyann Chin of Marge Piercy’s The low road  in the documentary, The People Speak.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zveWE6I3M2g

Not all my students experienced the degree of inspiration I did when observing these scenes. I responded with a sense that I could do things I haven’t yet done, understand things that were previously a mystery. It wasn’t about just doing what someone else recommended or accepting someone else’s beliefs—that is what I would call being persuaded. No, I WANTED to do something that would make a difference to others and to embrace insights that would make me different. And the feeling that I wanted to do and be more hasn’t left me.

What causes us to grasp a broader view of what is desirable and possible?  My pondering has yielded only two requirements for being inspired: an emotionally charged message (conveyed through rhythmic words and if spoken, confirmed by body language) and disclosure of a bit of transcendent mystery through the openness (vulnerability) of the one sharing.  Poets, writers, and musicians sometimes do this. Their inspiring songs and stories touch us in deep places.

How can we be an inspiration to those around us? I’m not sure, but I’ll be looking for examples. What/who has inspired you? Please add your ideas and experiences to this continuing conversation.

Needed – Stories on Acting Justly

I apologize for being absent during the last three month. I have excuses but none are sufficiently convincing to warrant sharing.

I have a resource and a  story to share today.    The first is a link to an excellent article and brief video on the need to interact with others to make changes. Here it is: http://odewire.com/184698/reach-beyond-yourself.html

The second is what happened to me last night. I ran into the grocery store (filled with an overabundance of almost everything!) and immediately saw another customer on a phone—crying. I overheard her say, “can you please send me at least $20 by Western Union because I need to get to my grandkids.” I looked in my billfold, found I had $16 and gave her $10 (which she accepted reluctantly and with a confused look on her face), then I quickly walked away. I felt very good—for about five minutes. This may be the reason we like to do charity more than justice work. That “feel good” sensation comes with very little sacrifice: I didn’t give all I had and it only took me about five seconds. And even though I didn’t want to be noticed, when I left the store the welcome man was especially gracious.

After the five minutes of being “puffed up,” I started to re-evaluate the situation. Why didn’t I give all I had, since I had heard her say what she needed and what I gave didn’t cover the need? Why didn’t I find out where she needed to go (maybe even offering to drive her)?  My answers are  similar to some of yours might be: I didn’t have much extra money…I didn’t want to interfere and embarrass her…I didn’t have time for a long drive…I didn’t know how to offer help gracefully.

The good feeling left as quickly as it came, leaving me with other feelings and questions. The situation and article made it clear to me that I need to interact with others who will help me understand how to be a person who “loves mercy and ACTS justly.”

I’d love to have you share your stories on my blog or by email!

Reclaiming our Power

Leonard Cohen singing \”Democracy\” (is coming to the USA)

[My summary of  presentations by Rudy Lopez and Sharon Lettman at the Detroit Wellstone Action! Camp on May 21, 2004]

Just being on the side of what is right, just and fair does not cause us to win in the struggle against violence and injustice.  We are not in an ideal world; therefore we must organize for action.  We must gain the power that comes through organized people and organized money (having access to resources).

For most of us, the label “power hungry” has a negative connotation, yet power is neutral.  It’s what we do with it that makes it good or bad, harmful or hopeful.  Those who have power get to choose how it is used.  Our community, and certainly our world reflect the values of those who have the power.  But does the place and the age in which we live reflect your personal values?  If not, it may be that you have bought into the widely-distributed message that power is to be feared because of its corrupting influence.  Yet those who created that message are profiting from our lack of power.  Can you name a corporation, organization, or leader who seems to profit from our losses?  Consider services that many Americans have been denied, services such as health care, a quality education, and protection against unemployment–services necessary for the quality of life that rightfully belong to all people.

If our rights are to be respected, we must reclaim our power.  We must have the ability to act according to the precepts of our faith and values.  We must follow in the steps of powerful leaders such as Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Mother Teresa.  They left a legacy of justice by using their power to organize people and resources.  They showed us how to start movements that serve all humanity.  Now it’s our turn.   To be the ones with the most power, we must look beyond our difference to the values and visions we have in common.

It doesn’t take a multitude to begin.  With a few other people from our neighborhoods, churches, or community groups, we can instigate a grassroots effort to address our most pressing issues.  By reaching out to our circles of influence with a compelling message, we are activating the power of the people.  As private citizens learn how to advocate, our courage and commitment become a beacon to our friends and associates, many of whom also crave a place to participate.

As we dare to share what we stand for, people will organize around our issues (because they are their issues, too).  Collectively we have the power to create laws, to make candidates accountable, even to transform systems.

Collaborate ON WHAT?

Several of my posts (including the most recent) include a call to collaborate, a favorite objective of mine.  Working together with others is (to me) more fun, and the results are always more remarkable than anything my small but creative mind can conceive. Then this thought came to me:  if I were in a gathering with remarkable people (like my readers), what would we be doing?

I would expect the gathering to have a social justice focus, but that is an extremely broad subject enveloping grave issues and mountainous obstacles. If I meant to take a leadership role, I might lay out a plan to address one of my preferred issues—but then I would lose some whose motivation was directed toward something else. (This has happened to me…)  Instead of narrowing our focus to a primary issue, we could be more effective focusing on a single method.

Let’s assume the group’s chosen method is to communicate in writing a clear picture of an issue(s) with possible solutions including personal opinions, offered only after first presenting a balanced assessment based on research.  Because we are a collaborative team, we could help each other by first debating issues and discovering accurate information. Then we would critique what is written, locate applicable visual aids, and help to disseminate the final script through our own blogs, email lists and other sources for social and sacred networking.

With this action plan, every participant can do what they do best and appeal to what has captured their interest and imagination.  With this approach to collaborating, the question is changed from on what to with whom.

With you?

Ways to Take Back OUR Power

\”Why Growing Income Equality is Bad for America\” by Robt. Creamer, political organizer & author

How can we take back the power of the people so that our country’s laws/regulations reflect the interests of the majority rather than the richest?

1.  Become a participant in the democratic process. Here’s a way to begin: Democracy\’s Challenge: Reclaiming the Public\’s Role\”

2.  collaborate

I echo what Annabel Park, founding member of The Coffee Party says: Democracy should be a collaboration, not a fight. Democracy is a coming together to overcome the rampant greed and/or indifference that allows a few to prosper and many to  despair.  We came together in the past and turned the tide on societal evils. Our heroes were not always the recognized leaders; instead, they were people just like us. Something or someone kindled the courage in their souls and they stepped out and became a throng shouting “no more” and “we shall overcome.”
The Beatle\’s song performed by Delbert McClinton

Isn’t it time for the people to come together again?

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: