Jun 14, 2017

A Movement Model Inspired by Courage

We sat around a large circle of chairs in a chapel. The acoustics of the room echoed the clinking of spoons on coffee mugs and hushed conversations. The room slowly became silent as a facilitator chimed the first bell of the weekend.

“This is not a share or die event”  they said.

I felt myself relax a little deeper into my chair as I let go of my rehearsed introduction of who I was and why I was invited into this space.

Over the course of three days, I participated in a retreat organized by the Center for Courage & Renewal called “Courage to Lead for Young Leaders & Activists”. We were brought together to think about what we do, and most importantly — why. A retreat by their definition meant creating space to dig deep and engage with questions to help you understand your unique why, layer by layer.

To “create space” can have a lot of meanings. At GlobeMed, we create space for discernment through globalhealthU during weekly meetings. We create space for collaboration and relationship-building through convening events like our annual GlobeMed Summit. But how do you create space to build a successful movement for social change?

The final day of the retreat opened with an exploration of a “movement approach” to create social change. Parker J. Palmer, founder of the Center for Courage & Renewal, had studied social movements of the past and created a four stage model. The model is meant to help us understand where we are as leaders within the progress of a movement. According to his model, the first stage in a movement for social change is called “Divided No More”. Parker explained that this is the moment when isolated individuals reach a point where the gap between their inner and outer lives become so painful that they resolve to live divided no more. Or in other words:

“When the truth rises up and out of us, you can’t get the toothpaste back into the tube.”  – Parker J. Palmer

When you center an individual’s experience of realizing what they know to be true and they realize they are not alone in that belief, a movement has begun.

The act of resolving to align your inner self with your outer life can seem like a small step, but it is the first of many meaningful moments ultimately leading to systemic reform. It looks like Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on a bus, knowing the fate of previous women who had tried the same tactic before her. It looks like Shirley Seng, founder of Kachin Women’s Association Thailand, who trains women to speak out about the abuses the have seen and witnessed in their ethnic communities in Burma.

It feels like transformation.

Our Devotion to Transformation

Poetry is leading us.

It never cares how we will

be held by lovers

or drive fast

or look good in the moment;

but about how completely

we are committed to movement

both inner and outer;

and devoted to transformation

and to change.

– Alice Walker, “Every Revolution Needs Fresh Poems”


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2 Responses to A Movement Model Inspired by Courage says: September 27, 2017 at 8:05 pm

But how do people find the courage to declare their personal truth in the public arena, knowing that when they do, they are likely to be punished in ways that range from ridicule to marginalization to the loss of their livelihoods?

GlobeMed says: October 6, 2017 at 12:56 pm

That is a phenomenal question, and not an easy one to answer. Perhaps, one of the most important things we can do as individuals is to support others when they are declaring their personal truths. This kind of action, “having each others’ backs” takes courage too, but it can inspire more people to speak up. In difficult times, people want to feel loved, not lonely. They want to feel heard, not ignored. Fear begets fear. Courage begets courage.



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