By Lindsay Gullingsrud
Do you like quotes? I do. I find that quotes can bring me to a point of clarity and often keep me on the path I wish to be on. Whether I remember them all the time is another story, but I try. There are a number of quotes I have read or that have been given to me over the years. Today I am thinking of two:
Be the change you want to see in the world. ~ Mahatma Gandhi
You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do. ~Eleanor Roosevelt
I believe I was in my late teens or early twenties when I came across these quotes. You know, that time in your life in which the sky is the limit—a time, for many, when the world is opening up and reality starts to shine through. For some, this might be the recognition of all the things the adults around you as a child wanted to keep hidden. For me, it was a time to learn about the various levels in which boys or men are treated differently than girls or women—sexism. It was the time when I learned about sexual violence and started see the impact this type of violence had, regardless of when it happened—either as a child or an adult. This was also the time that I learned about white privilege and heterosexual privilege. Reality slapped me in the face. On one hand, I was on the receiving end of sexism, and on the other, I personally benefited from privilege. Even if I had not earned it or actively sought it out, it was mine.
I was experiencing quite the personal, political, and spiritual learning curve. Everything I had learned about equality, diversity, and even the way we treat one another changed. I didn’t think I was part of the problem. Then my perception of the way the world really worked was challenged, and it was really hard to face. I had just about given up on humanity when I read the Gandhi and Roosevelt quotes. And then I decided I could either shut down with the weight of being overwhelmed, embarrassed, and ashamed about being part of the problem; or I could follow these words to work to create change. I chose to get to work.
In doing prevention work, some people see themselves as a natural fit because they work in a related field or have personal experiences that have pulled them in. Others don’t. This could be you, and you might care about the issue, but you don’t feel like you have a good reason for being part of the movement other than just caring. Or the idea that you might have contributed to the problem in the past can feel so daunting and embarrassing that it’s easier not to change and just maintain the status quo. That is exactly the time, however, to jump into the hard work of “do[ing] the thing you think you cannot do.” When you come to the point where the work gets hard because it shakes you to your core and challenges who you are or thought you were, sit with it, think about it, and then work to move forward. It’s easy to do this work when it’s fun and exciting, but when you get down in the muck of it all, right down to the roots, that’s when the real change happens—the connections are stronger, the solutions seem clearer, and action gets easier.
When I was preparing to write today’s blog, I went to the internet for a little inspiration and came across this video. With inspiration in my heart and a tear of hope in my eye, I started writing. When I lost my focus, I turned to Megan (here in the office) and she took the time to help me unpack what I wanted to say and find more clarity in the message I wanted to send. This video speaks a truth so profoundly that words just cannot do justice. You don’t have to know every component of the what or the how—you just have to act. In Minnesota, there is a consortium of people who are getting ready to act on February 29. Today your action can be to look on this website to learn a little more about Demand the Change for Children and you can prepare to take your action on the 29 with all of us. Together, we can help each other unpack the world around us, and with that clarity, find the solutions to end sexual violence.