In celebration of today as International Women’s Day, and the Day Without A Woman Strike,…
Be the change you wish to see in the world. – Gandhi
I had this quote on my office door at Penn State for many years, and it was the header of damn near every course syllabus I created during my time as faculty at Penn State, teaching social and political activism, civic engagement and the intersections between the arts and activism. It seems like such a simple statement, one that could easily be read and moved on from without thinking about what it means for ourselves, but to me it is one of the most profound suggestions for living into a world in need.
Students would come to my classes wanting to learn how to make BIG changes in the world around them and I’d ask them on the first day to spend a week observing how they were interacting with the people in their paths. How do you talk to your classmates, to your friends, to your family members? Do you smile at strangers? Do you make eye contact with the person who is serving you in the check-out line? Do you thank them? Do you respond to people who are in distress around you even when they are strangers? How are you BEING in the world around you because if you want to change the world, start with yourself in your day to day interactions because you never know how one moment of true contact and connection might impact the person with whom you are connecting. How are you BEING in the world? Can you BE more of what you yourself want to see and experience?
This quote reminds me again and again of the power available in the moment to change the moment itself with our BEING what we most want and need and offering it to others around us. It feels a risky and vulnerable and slightly threatening way of interacting in the world right now and yet I believe that the most significant changes start with the most simple of decisions to be present in the moment and offer the best of what we can.
So, today, in honor of Gandhi’s birthday, when the world is so in need of change and kindness and compassion and us bringing to bear in the moment the best of what we have to offer, I hope that there are moments in your day ahead where the people around you risk themselves enough to BE their best and that you yourself offer the same to them, too. The world changes moment by moment, and we get to choose how we want to BE in that moment. So, I’m saying good morning and thank you and bless you and I love you and I know how hard it’s been lately but I also know that you are beautiful and strong and your fierce heart has everything it needs to take the next step and you are not alone and I’m going to look you in the eye as I say all of this and tell you that I hope that both love and grace hold you and carry you into the new being that your are becoming.