In yesterday’s post, I shared with you a glowing report about an amazingly awesome activism event–Take Back the Beach. It was powerful and wonderful and moving. It was a special and discrete moment in time where things went well, everyone got along, and changing the world seemed not only possible, but inevitable.
And then I came back home to my email inbox. And that mailbox was filled with the real-life frustrations that come when many people within many groups try to make the world a better place. Along with the magic moments of transcendence and transformation come many days of messy arguments over who holds what power and who is making the rules and who is following the rules and who gets the credit, and who gets to speak and who is heard. Sometimes it’s really hard to hold the thread and keep the focus. It’s easy to forget that it’s really about making the world a better place.
I wish I could say this experience is unique to one group, but I’ve experienced it in so many places and with so many organizations. Sometimes it’s tempting to go off into a corner and just try to do activism all by yourself. But that doesn’t work either. To make change you need a lot of people, all working at the top of their game, all sharing to the best of their abilities. Everyone needs to be valued. Everyone needs to be recognized. And each and every time, you have to realize that there is no group of people, anywhere in the world that is going to get it right all the time. People are fallible and relationships are messy. We are all by turns proud, defeated, aggressor, and victim. All you can do is try to build groups with enough strength and elasticity to bend and not break when the wind blows through. And then you try again. And then you try again some more. Wash, rinse and repeat.
That’s why it’s so helpful to have those special moments in the sun, like Take Back the Beach. It helps me so much to have these memories to treasure and hold close and remember why the heck we’re doing this in the first place.
My little Chicklettes, please remember that the road to making the world a better place is never a smooth one. Sometimes reaching a wing out to help somebody else simply results in two feathery butts bouncing on the ground. But sometimes you and the entire flock will soar! Here’s to remembering your days of high flying.
The Fat Chick