How Much Good Can A Person Do Within Systems Set Up to Oppress People?

From Linda Hill’s facebook conversations with Stanley Daniels, and Janice M.

I received this meme from Inclusive Leader Stanley Daniels today: “When people ask ‘What do you do?’ Answer: ‘Whatever it takes.’

As I was reflecting on that message, I received this quote from Janice M: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” (Margaret Mead).

Then as I read their facebook contributions further, I realized that both Stanley and Janice were asking the same question which Stanley stated very clearly:

“How much good can a person do within systems set up to oppress people?”

For Janice, the context of thinking “What Can I Do? was her concerns about the state of Alabama passing a law that once again criminalizes abortion in that state. This is such a huge step backwards for women’s rights to choose. She asked: “I have just spent 30 minutes trying to explain the abortion bans to my 16 year old. He is so incensed. He asked me ‘what are we gonna do’ about climate change and abortion bans. All I could say is vote and march. It seems pathetic. What do you say to your kids?”

For Stanley the context of thinking about whatever it takes his beloved community of Canim Lake Band. He shares this about his nation:  “Kolila te st7kwen. I am from the place we gather hog fennel root. Styetemc-Ken ell re secwepemcken. I am from the lakes district people of the spread out people (Shuswap nation).”

In another post he shared, “It was a very good year learning how to be an elected councillor. I feel like I’m doing a good job. I don’t know tho. How good can a person do in a system set up to oppress a people? Am I doing more harm than good ? Who’s to say ? Not me. But I feel like I am an excellent advocate and I’m so grateful for the opportunity. I haven’t said it out loud before. But I really am grateful for the opportunity to represent my people’s needs and wishes. To advocate for their well-being. It’s been a very tough learning curve, but I managed a year so far. And I do look forward to further engagement with my people.”

Even though Stanley, Janice and I  live in different parts of our huge country of Canada, even though we have diverse concerns and struggles, we have found ways to share leadership with each other in answering the question of how much good can a person do in systems set up to oppress people. The three of us are all involved in Inclusive Leadership Education in person and online.

Here is a photo of an Inclusive Leadership Education weekend we were all part of at in 2015.

Here is a photo of the Inclusive Leadership Online experiential education that one-hundred Inclusive Leaders – including the 3 of us – developed as part of engaging more and more people around the world in Inclusive Leadership education:

Inclusive Leadership education is based on the premise that ordinary people such as you and me can change ourselves, our families, our communities and indeed the wider world by developing our skills, awareness and action plans for embracing diversity. The skills involved in Inclusive Leadership are skills for building bridges to equality, skills for connecting with social diversity and biodiversity, skills for communicating with compassion and skills for responding to hurtful situations with what we have come to call “Anti-Discrimination First Aid”.  The awareness is what we learn from each other about our diverse concerns, challenges, and ways of thinking globally and taking action locally.

Developing our Inclusive Leadership skills not only makes us ordinary human beings a little more extraordinary, it helps make our communities, our schools, our work-places, our neighbourhoods and our families extraordinarily “leader-full’ places to be doing whatever it takes to re-connect with and re-build our local worlds based on the pillars of the international Earth Charter:

  • Ecological (and social) integrity
  • Respect and care for the community of life
  • Social and economic Justice
  • Equality (which is the true meaning of ‘democracy’), non-violence and peace

Inclusive Leaders are not in this alone. We are part of an international movement of people who are all thinking globally and acting locally. And I have come to believe that this huge movement is likely made up of about 3 billion people, including you: the person who is reading this post right here right now. I have two reasons for believing that you and I and about half the people in the world are actively involved on a daily basis in all kinds of daily life-enriching and life-sustaining activities. One reason is meeting so many amazing people from around the world who become involved in the Discover Your Inclusive Leadership Potential course.  The actions we are taking in our local communities to forge inclusive solutions are so hopeful. The second reason I believe that you and I are part of a global movement involving about 3 billion people is because of the results of the polarized results of recent elections around the world. Half the voters (in the parts of the world that allow voting) appear to desperately want to live in a world based on integrity, respect, justice and peace. To me, this is proof that we are part of the largest social and environmental change movement in the history of the world. I truly believe we are living at the critical tipping point moment in history when this loving movement has finally become more powerful than the two hundred years of industrial revolution and colonization that all of us in the world are up against. This gives me so much hope! ‘

Stanley Daniels says, “Every day more and more resources are extracted. We get distracted easily.”  His inclusive solutions are practical, positive and possible: “Go out and practice your language and culture. Kelenemce re qelmuc- listen to your people. What’s the point of treaties and aboriginal rights and title, if you do not practice your ways? Ownership of land is not a victory. Stewardship and a world together with a place to live is paramount.”

Janice M’s friends and family say, “Talk to your friends, at school and everywhere. stand up for science and for women’s reproductive rights, never let deniers and sexists go unchallenged. So proud of you and your family Janice. 

It is draining! But, it helps to know that you’re not alone and that there are many parents like you who try and keep the communication open.

Perhaps that is another way to make a meaningful change.”