Today I met up with Casey, a friend who I haven’t seen in years. Naturally, we caught each other up on life events outside of our posts on social media. It also wasn’t lost on me that we were both wearing orange (a reddish orange) and that tomorrow, November 25th, is National Day to End Violence Against Women (#orangetheworld), beginning #16days of activism against gender-based violence. The idea is to wear orange to show solidarity and to help raise awareness.
A movement like this is huge. I don’t mean huge in the sense of importance (which it is), I mean huge in the sense that it’s sometimes difficult to wrap your head around what one person can do about something that feels too big for any one person to change. Activism often feels this way – we hear horror stories, want to change things, and then feel at a loss for where to start. Or we start – we march, we protest, we petition – and then wonder how much change we actually made.
I recently started working with UN Women LA, where the main focus is on local change for global impact. I love this approach (thank you Cathy for the reminder). It seems doable, more manageable. I’ve been thinking about this approach in a more personal way and as a life philosophy.
Mental change for personal impact. Personal change for local impact. Local change for global impact.
It’s nothing new, but still a powerful way to think about how to approach activism. “Be the change you want to see in the world” is one of my favorite quotes, but we often forget that broken people can’t fix things. We have to start with our belief systems and ourselves. We have to have daily vigilance and reprogram ourselves to think better.
So, for these #16Days in addition to making deposits in the global conversation, a lot of the work will be focused on doing away with the piecemeal violence we inflict on ourselves. Words like “I’m so stupid,” “sorry,” “I’m a bad person,” “I shouldn’t have eaten that,” “I’m so ugly,” or the same words targeted toward other women (or men) is a sort of self-inflicted violence that has no place in the world we want to build.
A lot is happening around the world right now that would have us lose our faith in humanity, but I really believe that as long as we’re working on ourselves and taking care of the people around us, there’s always hope.