Yesterday I was interviewed for the Cal Alumni magazine: California. I’ll let you know when it comes out. I was talking about how my peace and conflict studies education informed my work founding and leading Exhale, and the pro-voice movement. Here’s my top 3:
1. INSPIRATION. I studied the role civil society plays in addressing community needs, resolving conflicts and creating peaceful communities. When I found myself post-abortion with nowhere to turn I believed that I had everything I needed to make some change on this issue for myself, and others. I was inspired by all the stories I had read about how communities had risen up against all odds to make their lives better. My problem seemed small in comparison and I felt if they could do it – surely I could.
2. REAL-WORLD LEARNING. As part of my education, I had to intern at a non-profit organization. I volunteered at The Ruckus Society. Their mission was a unique and important approach to bringing attention to important issues and I wanted to fill my social change toolbox with as many tools as I could, never knowing which tool would be right for the jobs at hand. As an intern, I made one of the best decisions of my life. I chose to work on fundraising. I learned the language, terminology, process, strategies of how to raise money for a cause. I didn’t necessarily actually raise money, but I learned by watching others and paying attention.
3. PERSPECTIVE. After my abortion, I felt at a deep and visceral level, the total lack of connection between what I went through and what I experienced and everything I heard out there in the world. This seemed crazy to me – that after all these years and all these women having abortions that the debate remained locked in an us-them battle and pretty much fighting over the same old things. By studying the ways conflict grows and how it affects its participants, I saw the debate through the lens of war and peace. In deciding how to meet the need for nonjudgmental support, I also knew that we had to create a whole new way to talk about abortion and that we had to step outside the status quo and create something new. We did. Pro-voice: the idea, belief and strategy that the voices and experiences of women who have had abortions will lead the way out of war and towards peace. We don’t know what the debate will look like in 10 years – but a pro-voice approach guarantees that it will not only be different, it will be grounded in the reality of those who live this issue every day. That is a peace strategy.