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[R]evolution Road – travelling the terrains of creativity, power and love

Veena Vasista, 11 July 2014

The Centre for Welfare Reform, in association with Compass, recently published a paper [R]evolution Road – travelling the terrains of creativity, power and love. The paper is the first one I’ve written about my journeys into being the change I want to see in the world, creating changes within myself and the relationship between individual internal change and a collective dismantling of oppressive systems, structures and institutions.

I think of this paper as a part of various experiments I am conducting, all of which are underpinned by a desire to live in ways that are more nurturing and restorative. I am experimenting with my relationships with myself and others. I am experimenting with my relationship with the planet. I am experimenting with rooting social activism in the practice of love. I am experimenting with how I write about these experiments.

For over fifteen years, I was a professional in the social policy industry. As time passed, I increasingly struggled with being in a culture dominated by rigid directives, manifestos and explicit, time-limited plans and for fixing social and economic problems. In contrast, I wanted to enter into meandering explorations of what is it about who and how we are being that is giving rise to the problems which keep plaguing us. 

In 2010, I left the social policy industry and turned my attention to thinking about movement in hearts and minds - which I now think of in terms of evolution and shifts in consciousness. To paraphrase Einstein: the same consciousness that created the oppressive systems and institutions, which guide how we live together, is not the one that will create meaningful alternatives.

In the spirit of being experimental, I consciously chose in [R]evolution Road to focus on presenting reflections and questions rather than outlining a change model or making explicit recommendations.

Some people – mainly male readers, I’ve noticed - have said they find the lack of explicit conclusions, recommendations or templates perplexing and awkward. One reader questioned the utility of such an honest personal disclosure. He suggested that, in the future, I go the route of anthropological Margaret Meade-esque cultural anthropology. He advised that personal stories can be offered up as useful lead-ins, but not be the main content.

So why have I written the paper the way I’ve written it?

I am inclined to believe that how we experience change in ourselves – shifts in how any of us go about being human – is mirrored at the collective level. In [R]evolution Road, I tell a very personal story about a radical shift (aka revolution) in how I relate to fear, hate and sadness. I tell this story to illustrate a type of struggle with oppression.

I tell this personal story because I believe that my, your, everybody’s stories are heavily entwined with the oppressive cultural norms many of us say we are trying to dismantle. I tell it because I believe my story is non-unique and potentially informative about different journeys that might be part of collective liberation from the toxic and oppressive ways of living we have created for ourselves.

I also share my story in the hope that [R]evolution Road draws people to step into a set of questions which I do not explicitly pose within it:

  • To what extent and in what ways, do we root our collective creativity and power in fear, hate, loathing and separation?
  • What results from this kind of rootedness?
  • How are these roots reflected in our organizations, systems and institutions?

[R]evolution Road is meant to be what it says on the tin – a discussion paper. I hope it encourages its readers (individually and within groups) to explore and reflect on its themes openly and with a sense of daring.

  • Veena Vasista is an associate consultant with Public World, currently based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She also blogs at see and connect.
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