Identity as Springboard to Community

I keep returning to the post from Civil Eats, A Young Farmer Calls for Political Ecology, and the idea of cause "siloing." It's important to see commonalities with other groups, but how to balance this with keeping a strong sense of identity?

Ideally, we should be able to use our own personal experiences as a springboard for change. One good example of this process in action is the international movement Women In Black. They don't consider themselves an organization, but rather a network of women with different experiences acting against injustice, war, and violence. For a group that claims no manifesto, spans across continents, and whose signature action is standing as silent witnesses to injustice, the Women In Black approach has its own organic form of unity.

"Women-only peace activism does not suggest that women, any more than men, are 'natural born peace-makers'. But women often inhabit different cultures from men, and are disproportionately involved in caring work. We know what justice and oppression mean, because we experience them as women. Most women have a different experience of war from that of most men. All women in war fear rape. Women are the majority of refugees. A feminist view sees masculine cultures as specially prone to violence, and so feminist women tend to have a particular perspective on security and something unique to say about war."

Note that the Women in Black are not claiming to have the only perspective on war. By highlighting the basic rights of women and their children in the face of a violent society, however, they form an eloquent objection to everything that war is toxic to. As New Dream has long sustained, change begins with everyday actions and with working from who we are. Where does your activism start? What facet of your identity allows you to see the rest of the world in greatest clarity?

The Sad Mother

by Gabriela Mistral

Sleep, sleep, my beloved,

without worry, without fear,

although my soul does not sleep,

although I do not rest.

Sleep, sleep, and in the night

may your whispers be softer

than a leaf of grass,

or the silken fleece of lambs.

May my flesh slumber in you,

my worry, my trembling.

In you, may my eyes close

and my heart sleep.

Tags: Activism, Feminism, Human rights, Identity, Women

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