These times are calling us to take a stand and fight for the things we care about.
Twenty years ago, Sydney celebrated the “best games ever”. Well, according to those who attended.
Over this past month there has been a literal trip down memory lane, recalling how, as a collective, everyone came together to help make the games the resounding success that they were.
Many stood tall during those games. Many gave voice to injustices done and raised issues not previously discussed openly. Peter Garret, frontman for Midnight Oil, revealed T-Shirts with the slogan – ”Sorry” – as they sang to the crowd and the millions watching across the globe. They took a stand, and in so doing started the process of shaping a new narrative for Aboriginal injustices which is still ongoing here in Australia. No political leader at the time was courageous enough to say sorry for the many injustices done to the Aboriginal people, and did not do so until Kevin Rudd did so in 2008.
This process is evident across the globe – in the US with the Black Lives Matter movement, in several countries in Europe, and other nations – with mixed results. This is not an easy process. As we wrestle with our conscious and unconscious biases, to not fall into judgement or blame but deeply ‘view’ how our perspectives and our perceptions are shaped by our experience. It requires one to stand tall, to hold an inclusive perspective to move forward.
Someone who stood tall for the Aboriginal people at the 2000 games was runner Cathy Freeman. Olympic gold medalist for 400 metres – a champion ( she recently acknowledged this in her documentary). The weight of the entire nation was on her shoulders that night and really in truth, for the ensuing four years. Cathy broke down prejudices, with her quiet and yet determined demeanour. As one commentator encapsulated it so beautifully, “she really was carrying the nation”.
There she is, lighting the Olympic torch. The ‘swift’ suit. Good on ya, Cathy! Butterflies. Her back straight, Freeman cool. The bend. Cathy lifting. The home straight. Flying now. Go Cathy. “What a legend, what a champion.” In Cathy’s own words – she knew she had help and this took her down that straight:
“My ancestors were the first people to walk on this land. Those other girls were always going to come up against my ancestors. Who’s going to stop me?”
Cathy knew her story, she had lived it for many years. More importantly, her work did not stop at the games. She has continued on in her quiet, yet determined manner to make a difference for her people.
Just like R.B.G, Cathy and many others like her are standing up, stepping forward in ways that others are wanting to join.
Every country and society has a story, and how we contribute to its narrative is how we stand tall in what we stand for.
As Lynne Twist, Soul of Money, said in a recent communique: “When you take a stand, you let go of any position you have. You take a stand that gives you incredible access.
Archimedes said, “Give me a place to stand and I’ll move the world.’
You can and you do.”
The choices we make will shape our work, our intention, where we put our attention and our flow. When Lynne speaks of the stand that she took when she worked with The Hunger Project, she describes that work as “a commitment to the transformation of a human condition that looked insurmountable, intractable, impossible to resolve.”
“When you make that kind of commitment, when you take a stand with your life, what comes through you is a level of effectiveness, inspiration, and even guidance that one doesn’t even know is possible. You stop living your life, your ‘little-life-starring-you’ and you live your stand.”
This requires a different attention. One that relies on your inner life. When you have limited outer resources, the sense of your own sufficiency, your own resilience, your own inner depth and your own inner resources – that is where you go. That is your treasure. That is what people who stand tall do.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whilst she had resources, practiced this. Her inner depth was extraordinary. Her life was not without challenges – particularly health challenges. She continued to tap into her inner resources, for she had a much broader vision – for others. She was a tireless and resolute champion of Justice. Ginsburg fought for those who could not fight for themselves. She did it in a way that led others with different perspectives to listen, even opponents, for she listened deeply. It is a quality that we could all embrace and embody in these ‘times’.
Another woman who has stood tall these past three years – leading a nation through three unplanned disasters with empathy, strength and genuine connection, is Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand. Jacinda was returned to power in what is being called a landslide. There are many who do not agree with everything she has done, and she admits she is not perfect, however she has been decisive and strong when it mattered to keep a nation together. Even speaking out on global issues that need addressing, even redressing.
The Dalai Lama even offered his congratulations on her victory.
“I admire the courage, wisdom and leadership you have shown in these challenging times,” he said. “I particularly applaud the way you have responded with calm, compassion and respect for others in the face of tragedy.”
These qualities are what builds connection, and inclusion.
The women I have mentioned here, have all demonstrated that power,, which is more ….than power over.
During a session with one of my clients, she realised that she had experienced “power over” by several male colleagues through the past year. As a result, she had inadvertently started playing small by not speaking up, being courageous, challenging comments and judgements as she felt she was not one of the clique. She lost her passion and forgot to focus on building relationships an not just on the task. She is now committed to making a difference and reclaiming her passion.
It is up to each of us to make a commitment to stand tall.
How do you want to make a difference?
What are you willing to take a stand for?
What do you want your legacy to be?
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