"You're More Powerful Than You Think"
I am fortunate to live in the same city as American writer, founder of Citizen University and teacher of citizen leadership and civic power, Eric Liu and been able to attend his monthly Civic Saturday events. The gatherings are a "civic analogue to church: a gathering of friends and strangers in a common place to nurture a spirit of shared purpose. But it’s not about church religion or synagogue or mosque religion. It’s about American civic religion—the creed of liberty, equality, and self-government that truly unites us (even as we argue over it)." In April, Eric spoke of civic responsibility in times of discord that continue to resonate with me today.
"All around us today Americans, young and old, are getting activated for the first time or the first time in a long time. We don't always know what we're doing. But the important thing is that we are doing. We can teach each other how to do it - how to practice power - with more skill and wisdom. We can learn by trial and error with joy and fellowship.
One thing each of us must do first, though is to be clear about what we're willing to lose. The risks of showing up and participating in times of upheaval are real: the risk of disappointment, of failure, of financial penalty or reputational damage or bodily harm.
But here is the reward: living as if you were wide awake, fully human, and not alone. For the sake of our country and the ideas for which it stands, let's take that chance."
Liu's words have carried me when I have questioned what I am doing, how I am going to continue, what if I lose my family too much money...I am buoyed by the reminder that I must try as the consequences of trying are much easier to shoulder than the consequences of staying inactive. He writes more about citizen power in his book, "You're More Powerful Than You Think" that continues to inspire me.
At the end of June, I received a phone call from a woman, Sarah Casey from southern California. She is originally from Seattle and had seen the SL2017 signs while visiting on vacation. She wasn't quite sure how she was going to sell them but she wanted to get 25 signs for her community. I was thrilled to have a stranger from California join the Spread Love movement in a big way. She and a few friends sent pictures of the signs new homes.
This week, Sarah emailed that she was ready for another shipment of 30 signs!! Given the quantity of her order, she is able to donate directly to OneAmerica.
I asked Sarah if she could share what moved her to step up and spread love in her community. Here is what she said:
"Being from SoCal outside of LA it’s much more conservative than I ever imagined when we moved here from Seattle. After being home for a visit and seeing one of your signs I was hopeful I could find a few folks down here who would want them too. I posted on a women’s advocacy group I’m a part of and there was immediate interest. Before I knew it we had over 20 interested folks! I took a risk as I paid for the signs up front but everyone who requested one got theirs. The remaining signs I sold on a FB moms group I’m part of. It got mixed comments as folks like to make things political but while not everyone bought one there were hundreds that liked or loved my post.
A week or so ago I was at a talk on racism and the host had one of your signs in her yard. They asked where to get them and I agreed to place another order if I could get another 25. It took a little more time and posting on several groups I’m a part of but we got enough interest for over 25! My friend Martita helped find a bunch through her network and once again I’m placing the order banking on people’s honesty that they will pay me once they arrive. But I figured if you want a Spread Love sign you are a good person!"
I am very grateful for Sarah for taking the risk and continuing to do what she can in her community. If Eric's words and Sarah's story inspire you and leave you wondering if you could do what Sarah did I would advise you not to hesitate, based on her experience and mine, I KNOW YOU CAN!!
WE ARE STRONGER TOGETHER!!