Accentuate the Positive

Thank you to Red Raspberry Studios for sponsoring this blog post.  They rock creativity like I’m about to rock this post!

Today at “Feminist Camp” (Global Leaders Change Program – Coady International Institute) we talked about Vertical and Horizontal tensions in citizen engagement. Yes, it is that exciting! I loved our case studies, looking at how people have created movements of change around the world. I loved learning how the interplay of needing grassroots along with allies in the government and donor realms and how true change has been achieved.  I love theory, but I loved the end of the day more because I learned quite a bit about myself.

In a discussion about tensions between vertical (government, donor, mob etc.) and horizontal (community members, associations etc.) I looked confused, raised my hand and said “but with every tension an opportunity exists.” The facilitator (who is now one of my new favorite people) said “not always”.  Me, being a little stubborn, but not definitely said “can you show me an example where there is tension but no opportunity?” and she gave me a few and my head said “nope, still opportunity.”  My big “AHA” (trademark Oprah) moment came that I am a fricken positive person.  I know in the bleakest of moments there is still something to be salvaged.  Not that “good things happen to bad people” screw that crap, but that no matter how bad something is, there is an opportunity for something better.  With multiple stakeholders this is not always the case; as our Director pointed out, what is an opportunity for one person may not be an opportunity for another.  She is correct, and I am not trying to oversimplify large international issues, but if you look at tension or conflict, even in somewhere like Israel, I don’t see just the problem, I see opportunity for peace. I see opportunity for growth.  I see opportunity for progress.  It does not minimize the struggles that are very real; I have been through my own and in life there are huge tragedies that I cannot even fathom, but if you look at people like Anne Frank or Helen Keller you can see that there can be moments of peace in chaos and confusion.

This is a new philosophy for me.  I am still a raging feminist, but I can no longer complain about things without being part of solutions. Without seeing opportunities to make a difference.  It’s hope.  Opportunity is not always the best outcome, but it is making something positive out of a horrible situation. Some of the best poetry and art work comes out of prison.  Men and women who have committed crimes and whose freedoms are now taken away (and let’s get into a prison discussion another time, most of these people do not need to be in jail, but I digress) and whose pain has become an opportunity for beauty.

This does not mean everyone needs my outlook; lord no! We need the ragers, we need the angry and yes, we need the hope. I am excited about www.shesthechange,com and everyday I am getting more ideas on how to use my voice to tell other women’s stories of turning tension and problems into solutions.

I am blessed to have my time here to learn, grow and to return to my community to see what movements we can start.  I want to end this blog by having Clint Eastwood put this blog into song form.  if you wish to support this blog, we are but a click away!

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