“That was one battle we had to fight.”
My heart always sinks a bit when I hear this phrase. Growing up I usually heard it from the mothers of children with disabilities, the subtext being that there was a string of fights to simply get their children what most kids were entitled to simply by existing.
Now I hear it from everybody. The attack on personal freedom is everywhere and we are waking up to the reality that these attacks are far from over.
We aren’t talking about a battle for equality. We’re talking about a full on, long term war.
But when you are sitting at home with your ipad, frantically trying to figure out how you can ever be the change this world needs, it can be pretty isolating. Add to that words such as “battles” and “wars” and it can start to feel like an unending onslaught is at your door, complete with the Whitewalkers from Game of Thrones.
This is not a healthy outlook on life.
A few years ago, when I was particularly knee deep in chaos, it occurred to me that the isolation I felt was just as much a framing issue as it was anything else.
If there was always going to be another battle to fight, what was the point? Cut off one hydra’s head and seven more will grow back.
Start a campaign and you will need a community around you. A campaign is never you alone. A campaign is never a victory won isolated in a forest somewhere, it is a step closer to a whole new world we all long to see.
Now I really try to avoid using “battle” and “war” language when I’m framing the struggles I’m taking on, both in terms of framing it for myself and in public. A simple word shift and I can start to feel the muscles in my back relax just a little bit. It’s less ‘us vs. them’ or ‘do or die.’ Now it’s about creating building blocks upon which a great world can be established.
Those of us who will be on the forefront of change must be careful. The on-going need for equality will wear anyone down if we do not practice on-going self care and rest. This includes knowing how to frame the issues at hand. Little tweaks, to be sure. But if these tweaks are enough to keep us going for a little bit longer, then it’s well worth it.
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