What We Can’t Teach: Courage & Commitment In Campaigns

June 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

This blog post just rocked my world – What We Can’t Teach: Courage & Commitment In Campaigns by Joy Cushman.

Just one excerpt below – but this one is really worth reading the whole way through. Seriously.

Commitment is not asking “Is this winnable?” I actually think that question is killing our movement and I want to scrub it off flipcharts and whiteboards in every corner of the country. By choosing “winnable” fights we are winning battles and losing the war. Commitment is saying “In the face of unfathomable odds I will stick with this for as long as it takes to feel dignity in my life again, and to see dignity restored to the faces of those around me.” What would have happened if the Egyptian protesters had asked “Is this winnable?” before their 18-day protest started? It would never have started!

It’s the paradox of organizing that only action in the world can actually reshape the political terrain to make the impossible possible.

And what would have happened if the Egyptian protesters had organized a one-day national day of action and everyone went home? So what are we doing folks? Where are we going with all of these national days of action? Where are we going with all of these one-day nonviolent direct actions? Is it just about getting arrested? I have a natural and very healthy fear of getting arrested and would have to work up a great deal of courage to do so, so I won’t be joining you anytime soon unless you’re more committed than that. If you’re committed, that means going back the next day, and the next, and the next.  Or is it just about rallies and marches? As a chronic introvert I’d rather stay at home and read a book if you just want me to be a body, a headcount at an event. Unless, that is, I know that at the rally or march you might ask me to do something purposeful, really important for my country and the world. Ask me to take risks, to get outside my comfort zone, but not just for the sake of that alone. Ask me—then trust me—to make something real of your campaign or movement in my own community.

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