There Is Always a Light

It’s already ‘next week’, with January soon to be scurrying out the door and February eager to come in. It’s been two years since Amanda Gorman, America’s youngest ever Inaugural Poet, first reminded us “there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it, if only we’re brave enough to be it.” Eleven months and a day have passed since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine reminded us that brutality driven by greed for power continues to thrive. And it is less than a week since not one, but three mass shootings took over our country’s news.  But … there is always light …  and there are always the many ‘small kindnesses’ we were reminded of in last week’s poem by Danusha Lameris.

So  …  I’ve been thinking, instead, about Sunday’s online conversation with Cindy Williams Gutierrez and the dozen friends who gathered to share thoughts about what Cindy called “the making of” her brilliant choreopoem, In The Name of Forgotten Women. The conversation brought to light how the production of this performance had broken through a lot of theater traditions, elevating and celebrating the art of true creative collaboration in ways that hadn’t been done before.

There is a lot of talk these days about shared and collaborative leadership, shared and collaborative ministry, shared and collaborative learning. But most of the time, it still comes down to the director or the minister or the teacher having the final say. Reaching consensus can be messy, disruptive, and time consuming. With so much else on our plates, do we really have time for that kind of deep (and sometimes uncomfortable) listening? And wouldn’t most people rather follow a leader who knows what they’re talking about and just gives clear directions? Hmmmn. Your thoughts? Do you have something to add or disagree with here?

Recently, it’s been my privilege to be involved in and to lead conversations meant to explore how we can hold space for contradictory opinions and feelings, and how we can value new ideas and creative contributions from others. It is here that I’ve had opportunities to consider the difference (and it’s a big one that often goes unnoticed) between welcoming the ‘other’ into a fold that already exists, assuming they want to ‘fit in’ and do exactly as we do (and probably have done for a long time), and actually embracing them, curious and interested in what it is they bring … inviting them to the table, so to speak. But then what?  Doesn’t being invited to the table without being allowed to help plan the menu leave the shared or collaborative job half done?  Hmmmn. If maintaining the status quo is what you want, this could be a slippery slope.  But if a bigger, more inclusive circle is what you’re after, let’s keep that door opening wider and wider.

So … food for thought. I guess that’s what this week’s words are all about. No answers. Just more questions.  See y’all next week. Maybe a little online conversation in between?

Published by Sulima Malzin

This 'Aging Rascal & Occasional Writer' invites you to embrace the world through her open window of poetry, art, activism, music, and humor.

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We are collectively so fractured that we do need effective, truthful leadership. Once there is trust, there will be collaborative progress.

Can we rely on leaders, though? It feels like no one we give the job to is able to effect much change. We must all continue to look for and vote for good leaders, of course! But I’m wondering what we can do as individuals to make things happen. Or, as collaborative groups!

In response to Steph’s comment about reliable leaders … a reminder that Democracy is not meant to be a ‘spectator sport’. Let’s keep talking.

Helpful hint to anyone commenting – if you click “Reply” under a comment, it goes directly to that person! Everyone can still see it and add to it, of course.

… and to Barbara, maybe it’s the process, more than the person, we need to trust. To disappoint is part of being human, don’t you think?

The (most) process at the moment seems overloaded with more negative than positive. To be patient puts decisions too far into the future. How do we counteract the negative of the present?

Such a great question, Barbara! I’m always a little shocked when I remember that what is so clearly ‘negative’ to me is just as ‘positive’ to someone else. That’s when it starts to get tricky.

This reminds me of a poem I have often use for guidance (read he or “she”)–

“He drew a circle that shut me out-
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle and took him In!”   ― Edwin Markham

Did you know Markham was an Oregonian by birth?
Hugs & Love, Louise

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