The second convening of the MEV first cohort has come and gone. While there were many “ah ha” moments during our week spent together, perhaps the most grounding discussion for me was that of reaffirming my life’s purpose. In other words: Who am I as a movement leader? What is my purpose and role? And how do I embrace my purpose so I can give my best to the work that I do?
“Purpose is the motivating force for achievement. When you are doing something which serves your purpose, you are at your best. We cannot use what we learn without the fire of purpose in our hearts.” — Sun Tzu
As I reflected on these questions, I remembered the first time I was asked to speak before a large crowd. It was a special forum for Black students at San Francisco State University where I was attending as an undergraduate. The panel was focused on issues identified as divisive within the Black community – issues that were creating barriers to our collective work. My topic: What does it mean to be Black, female and a lesbian in the Black community?
Initially I was not overly enthusiastic about participating because of my fears around public speaking. However, I knew how necessary it was that I push through my fears and participate in the exchange. Based on my personal experiences and on those within my social circles I understood the need to address this topic that so often went unspoken – the impact of homophobia in the Black student and general community. This hostility was not only present on the campus, but permeable throughout the Black community in the Bay Area, even though we were situated in one of the most open-minded cities in the country.
It has been many years, so I cannot tell you exactly what I spoke about on that day. However, what I do remember is the impact my presence had on many of those sitting in the audience.
I remember being approached and thanked for my candidness and honesty, and for confronting what most of us knew to be an extremely contentious issue. Further, for sometime students continued to openly admit to questioning their prior beliefs about LGBT communities in a way that they had never done prior to that day. And while my presence may not have changed everyone’s perceptions on that day – clearly, something had shifted. A transformation had begun for myself, for those in attendance and perhaps, for the community as a whole.
Personal transformation can and does have global effects. As we go, so goes the world, for the world is us. The revolution that will save the world is ultimately a personal one. — Marianne Williamson
Individual and social transformation is dependent on critical conversations. Discussions that bring forth ideas that often take us out of our comfort zone and provide a new perspective on how we may and can live our lives. It not only changes the receiver but the conveyor. And it is with this newly invigorated understanding that I have reconnected with my life’s purpose and bring my best to the movement to end violence – an agent for individual and community transformation.
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