Sunday afternoon, I hosted the first See & Connect Sunday Lunch. The theme was that old Gandhi quote I keep coming back to: ““We must become the change we want to see in the world.” We didn’t totally stick to theme – though we always stayed within the topic of social change. The conversation gave me a lot to digest. I’m sure as the week continues, I’ll be hit with new ways of seeing and connecting. What’s more, many seeds were planted and who knows when/how they will bare fruit. In other words, some of what I took away from today’s gathering will grow within me without my being aware of it, and influence me in ways I cannot now imagine. Nevertheless, while the event is somewhat fresh with me, I want to write about it – to share. And what I want to start with is the idea that becoming the change we want to see is a double-edged sword.
On one edge, being the change we want to see in the world can strengthen our relationships. Firstly because we are trying to living our truth, we feel more aligned with our selves, more honest. In that state of honesty, we share our selves more truthfully with others – and if they are prepared to accept us for who we believe ourselves to be, then we can build strong relationships from that foundation. What seems to be critical for this positive outcome is that in living my truth, I need to be open to your truth, who you are and how you want to move through the world – including where it differs from my movement, my rhythm. In this way, becoming the change we want to see in the world can be a delightful, albeit slightly tension-filled dance (the tension can be part of the attraction of it, no?) – people moving together trying to achieve a balance between togetherness and individuality.
On the other edge, being the change we want to see in the world can seem detrimental for relationships that mean a lot to us. As we make choices and give time to that which we value, it can put us at odds with the activities and commitments valued by people close to us. Activities we once enjoyed with a friend or a family member might not be so enjoyable anymore – because we bring to them an awareness which not only makes us question our choices, they also result in us questioning the choices of people we love.
I imagine a lot of people in being the change they want to see in the world experience the double edge: a delightful dance alongside difficult challenges to relationships. Becoming the change we want to see in the world can cut through the habits we’ve acquired as individuals and collectively which are not serving us well – which are wounding us. Sometimes, though, it feels like we are also making cuts which create new wounds – one’s which get us questioning “Is it really worth it – sticking by my values?”
I would say – “Yes, it is.” But be prepared – because the journey is not an easy one. And I’m wondering if that’s something we – people involved in wanting play a role in social change – might want to talk about more. As we go deeper into becoming the change we want to see, it takes us into difficult spaces with people who are close to us. How do we navigate through those spaces? What resources do we have – internally and externally – to support us?
The conversation also has me wondering about difference to becoming the change we want to see. For some people, it seems to be about living your truth and asking that people around you take you as you are. If they don’t take you, then let them go. For some it seems to be about focusing on a particular issue, e.g. the source of your food or clothing and then encouraging others to follow a similar practice. For some people it is about encouraging others live differently by hoping they will see how you are living and question their own lives. For some it is about actively trying to persuade people to live differently.