Truths About Activism

This is our reality: Daily we are bombarded by loops of violence, threads of national chaos, and far too many hyperlinks to political debauchery. Millions are addicted to drugs, alcohol, social media, and lies. Death sentences like poverty, racism, and inequality continue to plague people of color and the poor, while worthwhile solutions evade even the best experts.

Yet, through all of the mire, strength is emerging. Many have been forced out of denial and recognize that by standing alone and disconnected from one another, we are destructive. Countless of Team Me or Army of One advocates, or those suffering from unrequited love from political affiliations, have found themselves throwing in the white flag and opting for something greater.

A call to action has been sounded, in great part, for self-preservation. Serve or do or resist are refrains that continually ring through our ears like a catchy hook in our favorite song. It all makes sense; the longing to live is natural, even though we know that death is always imminent. This basic desire to do better, to have a part in cleaning up the rubbish and to rebuild, has led to an increase in activism. Many are snug in their roles and are earnestly and boldly doing their work. Others are being planted and are growing in their particular positions. Then, there are those who are trying to determine where they fit in and what they have to offer. Kudos to all!

But here are some truths about activism.

Activism is brutal and not for the faint-hearted. It’s a huge act of faith, and war – a journey that requires steadfast commitment. You’re moved, so you strategically plan and act. However, you really never know the ending, or which side the journey will leave you on. You negotiate and compromise at one point and adamantly refuse to do so at another. Hard decisions are made, people’s feelings get injured, numbers fall, and opposition occurs just as quickly as the hope that brought people together initially. Yet, just when you’re seconds from throwing in the towel, everything comes together. It’s usually a win. Not an easy one, but one well worth it. Yes, I speak from experience.

Activism is not something you bully someone into. It is degrading to dictate what another should be doing or giving, and how. No one is entitled to impose upon another’s skills, talents, resources, or opportunities because it’s believed that those things will serve some greater good. And, no one has earned the right to doom another for doing, what may be perceived, as nothing. Malcolm X summed it up perfectly: “Don’t be in a hurry to condemn because one doesn’t do what you do, or think as you think, or as fast. There was a time when you didn’t know what you know today. “ On the contrary, activism is an act of love with the goal being to serve with dignity, respect and courage. Lead by example. Encourage through perseverance. Exercise patience. Then, mentor.

Most important, activism is not a monolithic act; it’s layered and nuanced with more than one significant way to participate. Some will be the face and voice. Others will dutifully soldier when called upon. Yet, many will sit on their sofas with coffee (or something a tad stronger), firm shoulders, a first aid kit, and wisdom, waiting patiently for you to limp through their unlocked doors, standing ready to stitch you up and infuse you with strength for whatever comes next.

All are important. All are necessary. All matter.

If you’re moved to action, do so strategically and avoid being coerced into a role or a cause that your heart doesn’t bleed for. Determine your space and commit to being faithful from there. Never be ashamed or afraid to say No. And, if you long to sit at a table you can’t get an invitation to, then build your own table to put your feet under. No matter what, when you get in there, be ready to fight hard. Because here are the ultimate truths about activism: It’s bred from your soul. It’s brutal. But, it’s always worth it.

Nice writing to you again! Until the next time, live each day to your fullest!

Truly yours,

Mo~

P.S.: You can reach me via Facebook@Monique Danielle; Twitter @MoDanielle_08; Instagram @Mo_Danielle8; and email @ modanielle8@gmail.com.

Hello, It’s Been A While…

It’s been a while since I’ve last written, and much has transpired both as a nation and personally. I could rehash the atrocities plaguing the United States and even some of those of other countries. But you’re well aware of those things, and you’re probably more interested in viable solutions – solutions, to me, that are as varied and multilayered as each and every human. Collective and creative solutions, that frankly, I don’t have to offer you.

In my personal life, I’ve had some hard conversations and have made some uncomfortable decisions. At the pinnacle of a career that spans over two decades and in a firm that offered me “home”, I gracefully walked away. To a city that has served me well, taught me that fine line and small space between love and war, a city that offered my grandparents and immigrant father hope and opportunity, a city that educated me from elementary through grad school, a city that allowed me to sit at tables and help positively impact communities – I’m saying farewell. Thank you, Philadelphia; I appreciate your care. But, it’s time for me to go now.

Talk about uncomfortable. I’m 47, have earned my accolades, paid my dues, and could nestle in this life. And, I wait until now to bow out? Yes, because the truth is I’ve created a hell of a life that I merely settled for and into, and while I am eternally grateful, I want to do more.

     *   *   *

For years, I’ve had the honor of instructing adults in a training program. These are adults who after decades have stepped back into the classroom. Adults that – through their fears, doubts, insecurities and other lies they may have bought into – return Saturday after Saturday for 11 weeks and stay for as long as six hours. Honorable, committed, courageous adults.  I truly admire them.

During one class, we discussed the difficulty of change and the ease of settling. It occurred to me that just as the fear of the unknown often keeps us complacent, so too have the zigzags of our journeys. It’s impossible to forget the triumphs and defeats, the love and tears, the one win followed by two losses, and the repetition of it all in no particular order. Just when we’ve gotten to the point that we have it all managed and all under some sort of perceived control, we realize that while the space is safe, it’s far from great. Then, if we muster up the heart to reimagine the possibilities, we look back, remember, and think, who wants to endure that shit all over again?

     *     *     *  

For those who find themselves at a crossroad frozen and agonizing on whether to nestle in or to bow out, there is no right or wrong answer. There is only your answer, your choice, your life to live out. I chose what was right for me. In the middle of my life, I now know what to expect: a journey that will be unpredictable yet exhilarating filled with hopes and disappointments. That’s fine though. I’ve been there before, and I’m willing to live it out again.

I’ll be writing you more often. Until the next time, live each day to your fullest! Feel free to leave a comment!

Truly yours,

Mo~

P.S.:  You can reach me on Facebook @ Monique Danielle; Twitter@MoDanielle_8; Instagram@Mo_Danielle8, and via email @ modanielle8@gmail.com.

 

Simply Speaking

Some say that I oversimplify things, that I break down profound truths using a few sentences, shrug casually and sum it up with, “That’s all I got.” Some believe that I often neglect the variables that create an adverse situation and that my reasoning at times belittle one’s past experiences.   That is far from my truth and extremely distant from the truth.

I have been impacted by unfortunate circumstances both within and beyond my control. Love has shattered me, grief has overwhelmed me, and loss has robbed me. In my pursuit of happiness, fear has gnawed at every inspired thought, every possibility, and at one time procrastination was as addictive for me as Pepsi.

If you have lived long enough, you too have suffered. No matter how safely you have played, how firmly you have adhered to the rules, or how strategic your plan was, some things just fell apart. Great decisions for one stage turned out to be disastrous at another. Or maybe the decision was never quite a good one, but you gambled anyway. Regardless, life has at some point exhausted you.

I get that, and I do not diminish any of it. However, through the ebbs and flows of my life, I have survived with two clear advantages – a sound mind and a relatively healthy body. So have many of you. Those two strengths carry a definite constant: the ability to make a new choice at any given moment. Therein is my truth: The power to choose is within my control, at least for now.

You, too, can choose differently.

There I am oversimplifying again. As if making a new choice doesn’t come with its own set of new consequences. As if it doesn’t carry with it a brief, sometimes lingering, nauseating discomfort. As if a new choice won’t garner guilt or grief or shame – or all three. As if choosing differently is just that easy to do.

Certainly, it can be a daunting, even heart wrenching, process. But it is the only option I can offer. I am merely a reflective observer viewing from a lens narrowed by my experiences and broadened by the experiences of others.  My perceptions of another’s journey are blurry at best. What is clear, though, is that more often than not we can decide whether to continue on that trampled, unfulfilled path we have followed or choose an alternate route. Ultimately, the decision is yours. Only you can decide the timing. Only you know if you can accept the consequences. Only you can determine if you are willing to put the work in. I can only remind you that you do possess the power, and do not need permission, to make new choices – even if it is in the middle of the game.

That’s all I got. 

Truly yours,

Mo~

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