TWIL (This Week I Learned)
This week I learned about unreserved love. Specifically, I was awakened at 4:30 this morning by the voice of Cindy Blackstock saying, “any social movement has to be based on a foundation of love.” (When I can’t sleep, I sometimes fall asleep listening to a podcast.)
Well, good morning!
“You can’t build a social movement on anger and tears. And when we love each other, even when we may think differently, we love each other enough to gift each other with what we see as our truth. And to believe that the other person on the other side if they knew what was going on and they had an opportunity to do better they would do better.” (Sick Boys Podcast, Social Movement With a Foundation of Love)
Required listening, by the way.
I would say that any life worth living has to be based on a foundation of love. Also this week, I read “real love is not a soft skill,” in Manifesto for Moral Leadership by Jacqueline Novogratz.
This week is a call to throw off reservations; to stand, unreservedly, and calmly, lovingly, witness each other.
“Real love is not a soft skill.”
― Jacqueline Novogratz, Manifesto for Moral Leadership
So…where does that foundation of love begin?
It must begin with you. Loving yourself is not immature, it is not selfish, it is not “alternative” it is not a soft skill.
It is likely the most difficult thing you will ever try to do. And when you begin to commit to loving yourself, things change. You must love others. One flows from the other. If you do not love yourself, I firmly believe that you cannot love others.
Take a piece of paper and start —
I love myself because … ___________________.
Then ask yourself, Why? and write down the answer. Ask again, Why? and write down your answer. Continue for up to 9 “Whys” or until you are finished.
Cindy Blackstock began a program called I Am A Witness. Beginning in 2009, as she was litigating against the Canadian government, advocating for equality for First Nations kids, she wanted a group of Canadians to show up in the courtroom as witness to her work.
Who showed up? A bunch of kids. So many kids that they needed to sit in the courtroom in shifts. And they kept coming, witnessing for their unseen brothers and sisters. (Seriously, listen to that episode Social Movement With a Foundation of Love)
Who can you be a witness for this week? Who can you see and hear who is not usually seen and heard in your life?
There is an exercise I learned in a book I am reading called Manifesto for Moral Leardership which comes from Storycorps, an organization dedicated to recording community stories.
This takes courage, but see if you can do this: ask someone you do not know well to take time this week to hear their story…and then share yours. Fifteen minutes each. You listen, then they listen. Then discuss what you learned about each other.
5. Level-UP / Go Deeper
So, Storycorps is a real organization dedicated to recording community stories.
Two options exist that seem to fit with the idea of moral courage and real love:
There are courses and resources available to listen, record and share stories of commemoration and resilience. Consider looking around on the Storycorps DIY website to see if witnessing someone’s life well lived or story of coming through grief and struggle is something you might want to try out.
6. Video — (I was looking for a short video of a young Neskantaga boy saying “We are not animals. We are humans, like you” as he pleads for his community to be given clean drinking water … which they have not had for 25 years. I could not find it, though you can listen to it at the end of the podcast episode I mention in this newsletter, and link to below. This, instead, is a Vice report on the fact that 94 First Nations communities do not have clean drinking water. )
7. Course (First Chapter of “Walk In The Woods”— A journal/exercise book to open you up to new ways of seeing yourself and the world around you <= I need feedback on this — please let me know what you think of what I have done so far.)
8. Podcast (Sick Boys — Social Movement With a Foundation of Love)
9. Hero: Cindy Blackstock — Founder/Advocate
Why? To start, Cindy Blackstock saw a vulnerable population suffering obvious systemic injustice and did something powerful and out of a foundation of real love. She founded First Nations Child and Family Caring Society. When the Canadian government said they were basically just doing what the people of Canada wanted, she began the I Am A Witness program to inspired Canadians to witness and advocate for their fellow brothers and sisters. She is still litigating.
Also, She has received over 50 awards including the Atkinson Charitable Foundation's Economic Justice fellowship (2009), National Aboriginal Achievement Awards (2011), Amnesty International Person of Conscience Award (2017), and the Janusz Korzak Medal for children's rights advocacy. She has also received 20 honorary doctorate degrees including the Doctor of Iyiniw Kiskeyihtamowinq Blue Quills First Nations University (2016) Asonamakew (Passing Knowledge on) from Blue Quills University in 2016 and an honorary doctorate from Osgoode Law School in 2017.
10. Take Care of Yourself This Week and Share if you know someone who might like this. Please share with someone you think may enjoy this weekly.
Wild and Precious Podcast, the audio partner to 10 Things, is available everywhere you download podcasts. We’re in the top 10% of podcasts and growing (in the right direction…) :)