Revolution Beyond Fear

After a book on the “Gay Revolution” which laid out a narrative version of the fight for LGbt rights since WWII, I was struck by how it wasn’t the stories that told the tale.

While the individual events are a key part of the process, the power of change was not in the specific fights and accomplishments of individuals but rather in the changes in knowledge, attitude and understanding which grew out of the process.

The change would never happen without the events, of course, but just retelling the events only hints at the wide and deep shifts that are the change.   Change builds on change in a cascading way, rippling out to shift perception which in turn creates opening for more perception.

Consciousness raising is in the stories, of course, but between the lines, as people, for example claim separatism to demolish old assumptions but then find reasons to come back together and share the work.   The process to claim change demands change, changes in approach, in immersion, in reclaiming.   Dependence to independence to interdependence, finding ways to cut loose from convention, to understand on our own, and then to come back in alliance to create community.

How queer is too queer?   How queer is not queer enough?   This has always been the struggle around LGbt issues.    We need to shed old ways, to stop being constrained, but we also need to respect the foundations of what we share.    No matter how much we stand alone and determined, in some way we have to stand together and compromising, being bold and radical while being compliant and agreeable at the same time.

That social change, the stuff that happens in the heads and hearts of the people around us, doesn’t from rejection or acceptance, but rather from the conflict between the two.   We go through the dance, moving this way and that, and eventually find some kind of rhythmic synchronization where we agree on what we agree on, within tolerances, and then move on together to the next challenge.

What is the big lesson, the big breakthrough, the big connection that underlies social change?

The things that we were taught to fear turn out to be, when handled well, not so very scary after all.

Change is resisted because it is a slippery slope to hell and damnation, to a society where everything we value is destroyed, but then, approached with some kind of consensus, that inevitable change turns out to be just one more step.

This move from raw fear to considered acceptance happens both on the big social level and on the personal level simultaneously.  We see glimmers of new possible ways to be from those around us, then as we change, they see new possibilities from our choices.

Those idiots who were doing it wrong turn out to have been laying the foundation for our next move, and the people who thought we were wrong and off base end up accepting and building on bits of change that we create.

The future has always been in front of us, scary in the shadows of how it challenges our assumptions but eventually comforting in how, after the tumult, it becomes normal, livable and meeting our needs.   The pendulum finds its centre, but the more it has been held out of balance, the more stored up stress & trauma in coming to the next stability.

We have to move forward.   While our fear can lead us to resist the inevitability of change, that very resistance stores friction that has to be processed, a bit at a time or in huge, disconcerting bursts.  The more we fear, the more we block, the bigger the bang that is coming.

We each grow by facing our fears, dropping our resistance and finding a way through which works in harmony with those other fools we were sure were barracking for the wrong thing.

The story of change isn’t in any individual moment of struggle, in any one decision or agreement, rather it is in how we come together, past our entrenched fears, to find new and shared ways to be in the world.

The mainstream moves for so many reasons, from legal to media to politics to awareness and all of them are about raising consciousness, finding new ways to be beyond the old fear and denial.   Some of it is people moving the bleeding edge and some of it is people coming up behind to consolidate gains, but all of it is the process of struggling to claim better, more integrated and more caring.

The battle between separation and connection is continuous.   We look at where there is suffering and limits, trying to find another answer.   Inclusion wins, an acknowledgement of continuous common humanity beyond the myopic isolation some try to impose to maintain the status quo.

Whatever the story, love has to triumph over fear in order to let us find more excellent and dynamic ways to be human.

The things that we were taught to fear turn out to be, when handled well, not so very scary after all.

Change is resisted because it is a slippery slope to hell and damnation, to a society where everything we value is destroyed, but then, approached with some kind of consensus, that inevitable change turns out to be just one more step towards love.

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