Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way
Saturday, June 22, 2019
Late night commiserating, here.
I am super frustrated lately with a) judgment and b) unnecessary meanness. Oh, and c) dismissiveness.
These things all detract when you are trying to do some good in the world. Anyone. When any one of us is trying to do some good in the world.
Unnecessary, unsolicited meanness out of left field is especially surprising. Even if it comes from a person who was perhaps trying to be helpful.
I've also recently run into some surprising dismissiveness. Someone I have always thought the world of told me my opinion didn't matter. When I have been told by so many my entire career that my expertise, fire, dedication, knowledge, training, and experience don't matter, it's not well-received to have my opinion dismissed. Especially in a situation where I am very deeply invested.
I'm a fighter.
I go through these phases in my life where I don't think I need to be such a fighter, or maybe it isn't my place.
But then I have people who remind me of the fights. I have warriors around me who remind me how they are fighting.
I see and hear from women who are constantly and persistently fighting for their very survival. Fighting not to get assaulted. Fighting to navigate life after assault. After abuse. Fighting not to be discriminated against. Not to be ignored. Fighting to find a way forward after all of that bullshit. Fighting to breathe. Equal pay seems such a far-off dream when the playing field is in no way level from the get-go. I know very few white men who have to fight like the majority of the women I know. When you start your life out fighting off men, you're already behind the power curve. The women I know are fighting fiercely to take care of their families, and to advocate for people they love. I know men who do that too, but not as many.
One thing the last few years has underlined is that my life as a woman fighting for shit is not unusual. It's the norm.
It's not just women. There are fights to be had everywhere. The massive injustice, meanness, judgment, and dismissiveness demonstrated by the party in power right now is outrageous and unacceptable... to name but one example. Legions of organizations and alliances have arisen to fight the tentacles, damage, and monstrosities presented by these people. And that doesn't even address the rest of the outrageous monstrosities out there in the world.
I'll be damned if I'm going to step away from the fight.
Or apologize for fighting it. For finding ways to get in the fight, and to be the most effective I can possibly be.
People have been second-guessing me. Not very many. But a few. Here and there.
I think big.
I'm going to keep thinking big. We need people who will. We need people who are good at the art of the possible. Who are visionaries.
It's part of the fight.
Shift Is Coming
Part of the fight is figuring out how to get stuff to stick. How to build coalitions. How to get support. How to make a living while fighting the fight. I'm not great at all of those things. I'm working on them. I don't have all of the solutions. Some of the things haven't worked the way I'd hoped. YET.
I'll be damned if I'm apologizing for fighting, however. I'm not doing it. There are fights that need to be fought.
Some things are going to happen though.
My patience is running thin. I'm kind of done with people who are dismissive. Mean. And judgmental. I'm going to have to clean house a little bit. In real life, and online.
Since this administration's nascent appearance on the campaign trail in late 2015, I've known we were in for trouble. I've said since this administration has been in office that things are going to get worse before they get better.
That may be true on the personal front, too. Intensity pushes issues, values, and behaviour to the forefront. The administration has done it for the country. These times do it in our personal lives as well. Add some extra intensity and challenge and people show who they are soon enough.
I'm going to be asking for help. I don't know what that's going to look like yet. But it's tied to the fight. The fights. And you know what? It's okay. We need to fight this stuff together. Not a single one of us live in a vacuum. We need reinforcements. I'm fixing to figure out how to ask for them. I've had a hell of a lot of people helping me the last few months, but sometimes you need to take it up a notch. Or many.
I met a group of fighters last summer who helped defeat Roy Moore when he ran for Senate in 2017 in Alabama. Let me tell you something. It's a small cell in the big picture. But it's inspirational. It's a team. And it's a team that's sure enough gearing up for Round 2. To support each other. To support people hurt by Roy Moore. To support decency. Women. Voters. Democracy. Et cetera. And they WILL help keep that fool out of office, and a decent person in.
That kind of teamwork is what we need at scale, everywhere. We can damn well do it.
I was on a hotshot crew once, for half a season. Every morning when we did our workouts, our shot superintendent would yell "FIND YOU A SPOT!" And then you found you a spot, and you did the work. We all have to figure out where and what that is.
I don't know the way forward.
I do know we do it together - whatever "it" turns out to be for each of us.
Mostly. We mostly do it together. Because not everyone's on the team. Some people talk a big game but don't show up when the shit hits the fan.
The people you want on the team are the ones that do show up. I'm lucky as hell to have a whole bunch of them. They've helped me stay sane the last couple of months as things have gotten intense in different things I am involved with.
I know there's more. More good people. More people on the team. More fighters. Warriors. Advocates. Champions. Aurors.
I have a friend who used to tell me to put my wand away. It wasn't time to fight.
It is now.
I'm not stepping back. I'm stepping forward.
A fire chief friend of mine always said, "Lead, follow, or get out of the way." Indeed.
If you want to track how this evolves, track the work here to Shift the Country.
And if you managed to read this far, thank you. Thanks for listening. It means a hell of a lot. It's been one of those weeks.
Light it up.
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