I’m involved in an online course right now called the Space Between Stories. The short explanation (if you haven’t read the other two posts about this course yet) is that it’s about figuring out what it means to be a human right now on an earth that is struggling in a myriad of ways: from climate change to wealth inequality to health disparities to war to fresh water scarcity…the list could go on and on. The course calls the space between stories the time when the old story of who we are, what is real and how to navigate has essentially broken down. It’s a time when familiar ways of making meaning and operating in day to day life are no longer relevant. And it’s a time when, every now and then, glimpses of what could be present themselves.
Activist Jodie Evans spoke during the last session, and she shared stories about her work standing up for non-violent communication efforts, protesting various war activities, and her experiences from a life spent working to promote local peace economies. She’s an advocate of not forcing an outcome, but of instead taking action that aligns with her values and being ok in the unknowing of what might come to pass as a result. She bases her work on cultivating hope from positive change, regardless of scale. But the thing she said that resonated with me the most was when she said, “be in the conversation, not the fight.” In her work, she has seen firsthand how operating from a place of love, even when the outcome is completely unknown, has proven infinitely more effective than simply going to battle for a cause.
It can be challenging to interact with people these days. People don’t always agree with us, they can be resistant to listening to new ideas, and fear many times underlays communication. People can be (pre)contemplative about making any sort of change to their current lifestyle. They can be up in arms and feeling forced to do things in life that seem either like jumping through hoops or like a losing battle to keep a job or get a promotion or even put healthy food on the table. Sometimes people we know and respect come into a conversation ready to fight: with us, with the committee, with the employer, with the system or even with themselves. Sometimes WE go into an interaction –- with our clients, with our colleagues, with our family members — expecting a fight. Change can feel like an unbeatable foe after years of trying to force what you want into being, no matter how worthy the reason.
So my question today, wise readers, is this: How can we be in the conversation, but not the fight? How can we be in that place of unknowing and still hold space for the conversation that will foster hope, and ultimately, invite the change that will lead to a more beautiful world? According to Jodie Evans, part of what will help is letting go of the “right answer” and making sure to operate from what we know deep down as truth. Then maybe we can be in the conversation, not the fight.