In life, it’s massively important – though mostly dismissed as insignificant – to move towards what we want rather than away from what we don’t want.
For many campaign organisations that throw their heart and soul into helping save the planet, preserve species, protect the vulnerable and exploited, and champion new paradigms, over many years I have seen a common thread of fighting what’s not working. Having signed up with several of these organisations, my inbox is often filled with emails that are constantly reinforcing the fight message.
Cue Mother Teresa:
“I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.”
She understood that anything we ‘fight’ for (move away from) puts us in the box of victim, disempowered, disadvantaged, don’t have it, struggling, on the back foot, morale-depleting, resisting, pushing against – in other words, fear-based.
Fear is humanity’s Achilles’ heel.
Contribute to our fighting fund!
Fight the government!
Fight climate change!
Fighting the good fight!
Yeah … nah!
The level of empowerment that approach reaches cannot be compared to the greater version of it that didn’t happen.
After the March 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Florida, students tapped into this. They planned a march in collaboration with the organisation Everytown for Gun Safety – not Everytown Against Guns. It was named ‘March for our Lives’ not ‘March Against Guns’ or ‘March Against the NRA.’ This student-led movement is a great example of the power and momentum of rising. While the ‘fighting against’ does still come up, predominantly they’re self-empowered, collectively empowered, galvanised, mobilised and unified, and their thoroughly justified anger is being channelled in a positive direction to create a far greater outcome than fighting against. What’s more, they followed this up with #VoteThemOut and #VoteForOurLives. They’re sustaining and growing the movement in an empowered way, taking matters into their own hands. All of this has helped them to energetically cross a line in the sand and there’s no going back.
While it all seems very heroic, when it all boils down to it, rebels are victims. What we resist, persists; energy flows where attention goes; what we focus on, expands – focusing on the fight creates more of the fight.
Anything we ‘rise’ for (move towards) puts us on the front foot and in the driver’s seat. It’s uplifting, empowering, inspirational, self-determining, morale-boosting, hopeful.
Either way, like a snowball rolling down a hill, it builds momentum.
Will we get results with the fight? Sure.
Will we get greater results when we rise? Absolutely.
There is a risk that the desire to unite, to belong creates an appealing experience for those coming together to fight. It feels good to be part of a community. What if that causes people to misidentify that the action taken is a good thing? How much better would a unified group feel and how much more effective would it be if the focus was rising?
Is pretty much everyone tired of fighting and feeling jaded with the sustained effort needed for that? You betcha.
Are people hungry for more avenues to rise in an empowered way? Hell yes (even if they don’t fully realise it).
Do you think Martin Luther King Jr.’s most famous speech would have inspired generations and be remembered to this day if he’d said, “I have a problem!”
In more recent times, Bernie Sanders’ whole vibe was all about positively creating and focusing on a compassionate and inclusive new reality rather than fighting the old one. He stated that he was focusing on positive politics rather than negatives, and solutions rather than tearing down the opposition. In his 2016 campaign, stadiums were overflowing. People didn’t really know what they wanted until he articulated it and made it seem possible. This flowed onto his 2020 campaign.
In the profoundly wise Pixar movie, Monsters Inc, they were bottling screams until they discovered something far more potent. Trump and Clinton were bottling screams. Sanders was tapping into a far greater energy source (as revealed at the end of the film. I won’t give it away for those who haven’t seen it).
Many grassroots organisations do take the ‘empowered together’ angle, and that’s fantastic, however, when they run with the fight angle at the same time, it puts it all at cross-purposes. It’s so common and automated in our language that it’s a bit like a habit we need to break. Building a toolbox of alternatives also helps … take a stand; stand up for; stand together for; not on our watch; unite; add our voice to; rally to the cause; champion a cause; galvanise; mobilise; put our name to; march for; choose greater; we choose ………..; have humanity’s back; be the change; on the right side of history; in this together; onwards and upwards; unstoppable; best foot forward; change-bringers; no to ………, yes to ……… (and these are just off the top of my head – thesaurus is our friend!)
What would it take for these wonderful, dynamic, world-changing organisations to factor in more psychology, energy dynamics and shamanic/Indigenous wisdom for future campaigns? How much greater and sooner could the desired outcome be?
Ask yourself, which of the following speaks more to your heart and inspires you the most?
A new earth reality to fight for!
A new earth reality to rise for!
It really simplifies down to one basic question: how does it make you feel?
For me, the answer is a no-brainer. If you want to fully harness and galvanise my energy and my participation, don’t inadvertently deplete me by asking me to fight. While I uber-appreciate all those doing the super-important job of helping save our collective ass, I find myself mostly disengaging from the various calls to arms that invite me to join the fight. Like so many others, I’ve been fighting injustice my whole life.
Bill Gates nails taking the optimistic high road:
“Being an optimist doesn’t mean you ignore tragedy and injustice. It means you’re inspired to look for people making progress on those fronts, and to help spread that progress more widely. If you’re shocked by the idea of millions of children dying, you ask: Who is good at saving kids, and how can we help them do more?”
While ever the invitation is to fight, I truly believe many on the sidelines will spectate rather than participate. Give us a break from all the fighting, and give us every reason in the world to rise and to know we are rising together, moving forward in an empowered, positive way towards a new earth reality in which we all thrive.
… Then we will have a greater capacity and desire – THROUGH UNENCUMBERED INSPIRATION AND ASPIRATION – to heed the call, throw on our superhero cape and leap tall buildings in a single bound.