Awakening Through Language, Conversation, and Movement
I am awakened by language.
After the Move to End Violence convening in December, I returned to Idaho speaking a transformative language like a traveler returning from foreign county – undefended heart, gathering up, pivot, building movement, and resonance. I was particularly motivated by the power of resonance: creation of an echo chamber, messages that many voices can relate to, and the power of clarity, simplicity, and repetition. I imagine the possibilities of our collective voice in resonance: violence against women and girls is a human rights violation. Our collective voices are the antithesis of violence.
I am awakened by conversation.
I am awakened by challenging conversations among women and men at the convening: How do you love? Who is in the movement? Who determines who is in the movement? Why are we not inclusive, really inclusive? Did we unknowingly become a field rather than a movement? Are we – state coalitions, domestic violence programs, rape crisis lines, criminal justice systems, and national leaders – part of the establishment? Can we let go of our fear that we will be left behind? Can we make a pivot together, our collective voice in resonance? I do not know the answers, but am committed to hear and hold these questions with an undefended heart.
I am awakened by movement.
I came to this work of ending violence against women and girls thirty years ago as an attorney. I approached that work by arguing in courts that violence against women and girls was wrong. It was meaningful and important work. As I discovered what it is to be human, my work expanded in alignment with my vision of the world: compassionate communities, interconnected by a love of life, a culture of partnership, and of all human beings.
As I came to understand the possibilities of a compassionate community and myself, there was a convergence of the two and I found myself engaging voices to end violence against women and girls, building a movement I had unconsciously been a part of all the while. Voices of women and girls who have experienced violence, voices on the ground, voices of theory, voices of every gender, sexuality, race, and culture, ability, and age.
We matter. Our choices make a difference. We cannot believe the false stories — that there is no time for work to prevent violence or that violence is inevitable or that the established domestic and sexual violence services have ownership of the movement. We have to find the courage to understand what we know and to give voice to it, our collective voice that understands the human cost of violence rooted in oppression.
Here’s what I know for sure: that I have the gift of time and space on this earth, and I choose to be part of the movement to end violence against women and girls.
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