Over the weekend, and in response to post(s), the lovely Sarah Z tweeted me the following link, which led me to the poetry of Clementine von Radics, which led me to her website, which led me to this video:
And yes, I know I've been asking everyone to watch videos more than usual, but this stuff is AMAZING and deserves as many eyeballs as are out there.
Bravo, lady. Thank you.
(And thank you, Sarah, for introducing me to her work.)
The other day, I started a round of applause in a room full of people who completely intimidated me. It was the first time in my life that I had the courage to do so and it was in the last place I would ever have expected to feel brave in that way.
And brave might be the wrong word because it wasn't a big deal in the scheme of things... but the power I felt when the room erupted in applause was something I will carry around with me for a while.
Instead of cheering quietly in my head, I was disruptive with my support. And it made me feel like MORE than just a person in the audience. It made me feel like I was a part of the conversation.
We are all in this thing together...
There have been many times in my life when I wanted to clap--to applaud a speaker for having the guts to say the things that nobody wanted to say. But instead, I sat quietly out of respect for her... for the audience--something I feel most of us probably do.
And, yes, there is a time and a place for that, too. Of course there is. But in these days where so many people band together to bring others down, I feel like, more than ever, we should show our support when we can.
Knowing how good it feels to be on stage, hearing someone cheer you on, and now knowing how empowering it feels to do the cheering, I kind of think that we should all just stand and cheer when we feel the need to...because when has silence made a difference? When has silence brought about change?
We need to make noise--to cheer and applaud and be active when we feel moved to act.
There is a line in Clementine's poem that says, "You are the first drop of rain in a hurricane," and it reminded me of that feeling. Of breaking the silence with a clap.
I need to do this more often. I need to take this feeling out into my life.
In the span of three minutes of listening to Clementine's poem, that line became my mantra. That line has become my advice to my children, to myself and to anyone who has ever felt the urge to break the silence with his/her applause.
And then last night, with those words in my brain, I watched Monica Lewinksy's TED talk. Have you seen it? You should see it. Here it is.:
In her speech, Lewinksy tells about public humiliation, of survival and cyber-bullying... of the empathy crisis... and our quickness to detach from the people on the other side of the screen. In her words:
The shift begins with something simple, but it's not easy. We need to return to a long-held value of compassion -- compassion and empathy. Online, we've got a compassion deficit, an empathy crisis.
Listening to her speech, I thought of a recent story about a boy who didn't receive one RSVP for his birthday party. When it became public, thousands of people responded... Thousands came to his aid. My Facebook feed was wallpapered with his supporters.
It was a hurricane. And it was beautiful to see.
And yet, I kept thinking about all the boys who didn't have that kind of aid...the girls who didn't get any RSVPs to their birthdays.
Where was their support?
Where was their first drop of rain?
The Internet has the power to empower. To make and break lives. For that boy last week, one person started the hurricane. One person broke the silence and stood up to applaud in a silent room. One person said, "hey guys. Let's do something."
What if I could be that person for someone?
What if you could be that person for someone?
Certainly we all have it in us. (We are made of water, after all.)
It is very easy to jump on a bandwagon--the positive kind, the negative kind--but what about starting our own? What about speaking up, not as a group, but as a singular person?
What about realizing the power of the individual?
For if a simple clap of the hands can lead an entire audience to applaud then what about... and how about... and what if....
We are powerful as a group only because someone somewhere has started something.
We are on this bus only because someone somewhere, at some point got behind the wheel and without permission, started to drive.
In Lewinksy's words:
I've seen some very dark days in my life, and it was the compassion and empathy from my family, friends, professionals, and sometimes even strangers that saved me. Even empathy from one person can make a difference. The theory of minority influence, proposed by social psychologist Serge Moscovici, says that even in small numbers, when there's consistency over time, change can happen. In the online world, we can foster minority influence by becoming upstanders. To become an upstander means instead of bystander apathy, we can post a positive comment for someone or report a bullying situation. Trust me, compassionate comments help abate the negativity.
Because someone is always first.
The good fight is never fought by a crowd that suddenly, and all at once, decides to do something.
All good fights are led by first moves.
You are the first drop of rain in a hurricane.
Go, then, and fall with all your might.
photo via clementine poetry