Purpose: To Live and Lead From That Which Gives Our Life Meaning
When posed with the statement, “You can’t play baseball, you’re a girl,” I responded with, “Why not? I bet you I can throw the ball farther than you.”
Sexism first reared its ugly head at me when I was six and joined little league baseball in my hometown of Kailua, Hawaii. I was the only girl on my team and one of three girls in the entire league. Throughout that first season and the following five thereafter, I learned more lessons about how society valued me as a girl than I did about baseball. I learned what it felt like to be judged and valued less than my male counterparts simply because of my gender. I discovered the sting of sexual harassment from certain coaches and the players’ derogatory comments and sexual innuendos. I learned that my desire to break gender norms with my appearance resulted in homophobic remarks and threats of sexual violence.
I was reminded of the pain of those early experiences while at our most recent Move to End Violence convening.
During a discussion about living and leading from our purpose, or that which gives our life meaning, our facilitators proposed the notion that being grounded in and operating from one’s purpose can help the movement to end violence to sustain more authentic and effective positive social change. I was instantly fired up, and certain that my purpose in life was to work to end injustice and oppression throughout our society. I passionately wanted to tear down and fight against the social norms that bind our boys and girls from before birth into a suffocating world of gender constrictions, inequality, and violence. Upon more reflection, I realized that while fighting for this purpose was certainly in line with my values, it didn’t go far enough—and furthermore it provoked ANGER instead of inspiration. I felt deeply that in order to sustain my commitment to ending violence against women, I could not operate from a place of darkness or pain. Instead, my purpose was to live and lead from the notion of promoting love and joy for all—by working to support the creation of the beloved community.
In the words of the great, Martin Luther King, Jr. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: Only love can do that.”
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