“The beautiful word begets the beautiful deed,” wrote Thomas Mann. This is a lesson I, along with many others, struggle with. Our advocacy words don’t always live up to our advocacy ideals. Somehow we think we can denigrate, ridicule, shame and mock those in authority and they will ignore the barbs. Not only that, we expect them to rise above the personal attacks and implement the changes we seek. And of course with no hard feelings.
Words matter. Not just theirs but ours too. They transform both speaker and hearer. When we are angry or hurt, when we feel ignored or misunderstood, our words can amplify our deepest insecurities and perpetuate mutual misunderstanding. Which is counterproductive to resolving our issues.
It is possible to hold your ground and to be an assertive, aggressive and forthright truth teller without sinking to reptilian forms of communication. Looking for examples? Look no further than Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr. and the women of Idle No More. No one could accuse any of them of going soft, being naïve or letting down the side.
Rather, they are stirring examples of solution-based advocates – people who propose solutions while seeking to improve relationships among all the players, to build a base for addressing the next set of challenges and most importantly to be true to their values.
Let’s not let our words get the better of us. We owe it to our members, our movements, our democracy and ourselves.
Idle No More calls on all people to join in a peaceful revolution, to honour Indigenous sovereignty, and to protect land and water.
INM will continue to pressure government and industry to protect the environment.
INM will continue to build allies in order to reframe the nation to nation relationship, this will be done by including grassroots perspectives, issues, and concern.
Musical accompaniment this post is the exquisite “Sound” by Daniela Andrade. Another version here (scroll down to Chapter 2.) Purchase here. Isn’t she gifted?
Indigenous Wisdom and Peacemaking
Fear and Loathing and Social Change
Loneliness of the Long Distance Advocate
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