Unmask Me

“You’re still hiding in a mask, you take your fun seriously. No, don’t blow this year’s chance. Tomorrow your mold goes back on.” – Halloween, Dead Kennedys

In the opening of The Madman, Khalil Gibran thanks the thieves who stole his seven masks and revealed to him the sweet kiss of the sun for the first time. I, too, long to be madwoman and yearn to see the light of day, yet I sometimes hide in the darkness cast by my seven masks. By unveiling my masks, I offer them to the thieves in the night so that they may be stolen and I may be set free. They are:

1. The mask of my former selves

2. The mask of desires and that to which I think I aspire

3. The mask of my expectations for myself and others

4. The mask of fear of the unknown

5. The mask of shame and guilt

6. The mask of perfection and control

7. The maskless mask, or the illusion of not wearing a mask

From Revolutionary to Visionary

In my activism, I have transformed from a revolutionary, to an evolutionary, to a visionary.

As a revolutionary, I was reactive. My focus was on destroying unjust hegemony.

As an evolutionary, I was complacent. My focus was on going with the natural flow.

As a visionary, I am proactive. My focus is on creating the world of my dreams.

Perhaps the next step will be for me to effectively integrate all three paradigms of activism, easily moving among them as called for by the situation.

The Social+ Boutique is Now Open!

The Social+ Boutique is now open!

 

 

 

 

 

Social+ builds upon the idea of being carbon neutral. People who are Social Positive (Social+) aim to have a net positive social impact by considering the environmental and human impact of everyday decisions and interactions, being actively involved in the community, and expressing kindness and compassion toward others on a daily basis. By pledging to be Social+, you can demonstrate your commitment to positive social change and provide opportunities for increased awareness and discussion with others.

The Social+ Boutique features clothing and other items that you can use to publicly declare your commitment to positive social change. It is a simple way to share a highly complex and very important message AND to remind yourself of the importance of living Social+!

How are you living Social+? Please share your story with us! On Twitter, use #socialpositive to share your everyday decisions and actions that result in a net positive social impact. Send us your picture wearing your Social+ shirt along with a story about how you choose to live Social+ and we may feature you on The Activist’s Muse! Through social media, we can inspire each other to be more aware of, and intentional about, making a difference.

Class, Cherries, and Cooperation

While I strongly prefer to eat in season and support local farmers, more often that I care to admit I purchase off season from the supermarket to indulge in what de Tocqueville might have referred to as the American need for bodily comfort. At the end of last summer, I purchased some cherries at my local grocery store a few weeks after the local season had passed.

I almost placed a cherry into my mouth when I noticed that there was a long, black hair wrapped around its stem.  After a short moment of disgust, I felt a strong sense of connection to the people who work so hard to plant and harvest the food we (middle class Americans) eat. Too often, we take for granted the accessibility of a variety of relatively inexpensive food without considering where it comes from. America is still dependent on slavery and miserable working conditions, even though much (but certainly not all) of it takes place outside of our borders. The economic system, and its commercial branch with which we interact on a daily basis, is designed to pit those who have a genuine need to minimize expenses against those who are truly destitute by limiting our options and manipulating the truth.

And why? It should be unnecessary in a world where global cooperation is possible. Cooperation that leads to sharing, rather than commoditizing, hoarding, and overconsumption. Cooperation that leads to harmony, rather than discord. Cooperation that leads to environmental reverence, rather than degradation. Cooperation that leads to love and peace, rather than hatred and war.

Political Ambidexterity

When I was a little girl, I was ambidextrous. My mother advised to me choose a hand. Not knowing which to pick, I asked her what her preference was. She told me that everyone in my family was right handed. My choice to conform to this only confirms that I made the right choice for my life at that time.

I often wonder how my life would be different if I had chosen my left hand instead, or if I were not presented with the mandate of choosing and was able to remain ambidextrous. I actually think it served me well, as using my left brain has prevented me from being too ‘out there’ as to relate to other people and the ‘real’ world entirely. I love that I am at once rational and insanely creative.

So often, we are put in a position of having to choose sides. Election time is once such instance when we are presented with this opportunity to align with something greater than ourselves by veering to the left or to the right.

While we may need to choose in the polling booth, we do not need to pick a side in our daily lives. We can be politically and socially ambidextrous. Being ambidextrous doesn’t mean choosing our left or our right hand; it means consistently using everything that we’ve got. We can still take a stand, but it is one that is in a position to see and appreciate the entire landscape. Political ambidexterity gives us the freedom to explore ideas and re-create the world together.

L3: Appreciate Beauty

Ben was my one true love. He was 36 years old when I met him; I was only 11. I never imagined that I could love someone so unconditionally and completely. A lot of other people didn’t like Ben and they didn’t understand why I was so taken with him. He was older and had a scruffy appearance. But to me, Ben was my entire world and I loved everything about him.

Ben was a lesson horse at a local stable where I attended camp and hung out after school and on weekends during my middle school years. I met him on my first day at camp and, though I hated camp at first and wanted to quit, I fell in love with both Ben and summer camp by the end of that first week.

Ben’s age was obvious; his ribs and other bones protruded from his skinny, but sturdy, frame and his movements were slow but steady. But to me, he was the most loving, gentle, kind being I had ever known. I was only able to see Ben’s beauty: his silky, long mane and tail, his fuzzy brown fur, the stubbly whiskers on his chin, and his enormous size and strength all impressed me. Ben got more attention and tenderlovingcare than any other horse in Allentown at that time.

I cannot imagine what my life would be like if I had chosen to only see Ben’s physical challenges. By seeing Ben for who he truly was, a beautiful and graceful older gentleman, I learned about the true meaning of life and was transformed.

We are all perfectly imperfect. Horses, people, trees, and rocks alike share this characteristic. Imperfections are reminders of our humanity and a call to find and appreciate true beauty.

It is easy to become frustrated with other people. They don’t always understand us or do what we think they ought to do. Focusing on other people’s flaws may bring temporary relief when we are feeling hurt or disappointed, but doing so further damages our relationships and make us feel even more miserable in the long run. All people are beautiful human beings who happen to have flaws. This can be hard to remember when someone is really pissing you off; if we try, we can remember and recognize the strengths and virtues that person has to offer. Strive to understand their point of view and help them to see yours as well.

On a daily basis, recognize the voluminous beauty that surrounds you. When you see a field of dandelion, appreciate the beautiful color and healing qualities of this herb; don’t think of it as a noxious weed. Seize every possible opportunity to appreciate beauty, if only for a fleeting moment. Cumulative moments of joy make a big difference in our lives.

Leadership brings with it overwhelming responsibility. Take the time to discover, appreciate, and celebrate the beauty in the people, situations, places, and systems in your life. Take nothing for granted and seek positivity – the lesson, the light, the love, the good – in everyone and everything. Use your influence and resources to illuminate these beautiful ideas, things, and people so that others may be nourished by the beauty in them as well.

Structuralizing Possibility

On one hand, articulating a theory excludes 99.9999% of the possibilities. Representing reality in a specific form intellectually negates the possibility of conflicting interpretations.

On the other hand, articulating a theory opens up new intellectual possibilities by reimagining the way reality is understood. This may lead to additional theories, and greater understanding, that may not have been possible without the introduction of the catalytic idea.

The key, then, is to not become attached to our representations but to see them as part of an expansive, evolutionary process.