*This was first published on the blog for Exhale*
Archive for the ‘I think’ Category
*This was first published on HuffPo Impact*
2013 revealed a promising new political trend: A renewed interest in listening, connection and acknowledgment of gray areas to spur innovation and possibility. It’s not surprising that activists, leaders and organizations would respond to the dysfunction of the federal government by exploring ideas and practices to resolve conflicts and develop common ground.
No one understands the challenges of conflict more than Planned Parenthood, so it makes sense that they stepped out early. Last January, Planned Parenthood made a major announcement acknowledging that Americans’ views on abortion weren’t so cut and dry. Their willingness to adopt the gray area so proudly and publicly signaled potential for a major shift in the abortion conversation.
Less than a year later, they are less alone in their approach. More and more public figures are advocating for better ways of dealing with our differences.
In a fall TEDTalk, Sally Kohn, the liberal pundit formerly of Fox News, spoke about a concept she calls emotional correctness: “You can’t get anyone to agree with you if you don’t listen to them first… we spend so much time talking past each other and not enough time talking through our disagreements.”
Philanthropy publicly embraced the idea of building bridges across divides this year too. The Board of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation announced a new initiative, which will “zero in on the problem of political polarization. We believe… that alleviating polarization is a precondition for successfully addressing the other problems that bedevil us.”
This desire to try something beyond fighting is happening on the local level too. (more…)
*This was first published in HuffingtonPost Politics*
Years ago, there was a rural clinic in Northern California where women who got abortions one week would bring lasagna to women getting their abortions the next. When I heard about this, I couldn’t help but imagine myself with them. Would I be hungry enough to eat after my abortion, or would cheesy lasagna make me nauseous? Would I want to talk with other women or hang out quietly, feeling cared for?
This room of women swapping stories and plates of food is an image I equate with the ultimate expression of support, connection, and wellbeing after an abortion.
What if we could turn America into a community known for lovingly providing potlucks and supporting friends and family after an abortion?
We may not be as far away from this vision as you think.
Last month, when New York Magazine published “My Abortion,” featuring 26 different women sharing 26 different stories, women and men came together in the comments section and social media, offering support and compassion. We were all able to witness community being formed across a range of diverse abortion experiences. (more…)
* This was first published in the New York Times, “Room for Debate,” on June 30, 2013, amongst other opinions on the impact of women sharing their abortion stories.*
When I had an abortion it was safe, legal and covered by health insurance. I had no horror story to tell of a scary back-alley procedure, and I had no heartfelt regrets.
But the facts didn’t begin to describe my experience of having an abortion. My story was one of challenge and triumph, heartache and loss, friendship and family, and so much more. I wished I could have talked about it, without my story being used to promote abortion rights or to help dismantle them. Instead, I wanted to join with others to create a conversation rooted in the diverse, complicated lives of the women and men who’d experienced abortion.
It’s crucial that a range of experiences — from remorse to hope — are heard and understood in all nuances, no matter the political outcome.
That conversation is starting to happen. More women, and some men, are sharing their intimate experiences in private and public ways. One result is that the myths and stereotypes of who has abortions are beginning to crumble in the face of true stories. Another result is that women and men who’ve experienced abortion are now able to find and connect with each other. Feeling supported and comforted after an abortion, instead of isolated and alone, goes a long way toward healing and well-being.
But, sharing abortion stories isn’t all warm and fuzzy. There are real risks for the woman and for this emerging conversation about abortion in our lives.
A woman who shares about an abortion experience with family or friends can put her relationships in jeopardy. And, while social media can connect people by spreading stories quickly, a woman can lose control of her story – and her message – as it moves across the Internet. These risks can be mitigated with community support, but it’s hard to build community without first taking a risk.
My worst fear is that our personal stories will become commodities in the political marketplace, casualties in the conflict over abortion that get repackaged to benefit one side or other of the debate.
That’s why it’s so crucial that the full range of personal experiences women and men have with abortion — from remorse to hope — are able to be heard and understood in all their layers and nuances no matter the political outcome.
*This was first published on Storycenter, the blog of the Center for Digital Storytelling*
“We are wary of listening to stories that we think are being told to manipulate our emotions or push us to believe a certain way,” said Francesca Polletta, author of It Was Like a Fever: Storytelling in Protest and Politics in a phone call with me last year. “On the other hand,” she says, “ambivalent stories, stories with no clear moral agenda, invite the listener to imagine themselves in the story. True engagement happens when the listener can see multiple outcomes for a story and is able to come to their own conclusions.” (more…)
At 30-years old, I hit a metaphorical wall. I was exhausted and burned-out. A social entrepreneur, I had poured my whole self into the venture I began at 24-years old and it seemed there was nothing left of me, for me. I had a hard time getting to sleep. I cried a lot. I was broke.
I looked for role models, for other feminists who had dedicated their lives to changing the world by leading organizations to see how they did it. I saw just two choices. Either I could keep going, personal sacrifices be dammed, and find myself an old, bitter lady fighting the same battles year after year, with increasing exasperation and exhaustion. Or, I could quit and find something less taxing and also, less meaningful. I thought this was a false choice. I wanted a third-way, a path where I could be a leader with a joyful heart and a full life.
I set out to make that path. You might say, I leaned in to the challenge. (more…)