I fell head-over-heels in love with Margaret J. Wheatley’s book Turning to One Another: simple conversations to restore hope to the future when I was in graduate school.
I wanted to make a difference in the world, so I’d chosen an unconventional master’s program. It was intense. I cried. I raged. I regretted ever starting it. I invented new combinations of profanity for everything from our dial-up internet connection to the occasional professor. (I really hated dial-up.)
While I was teetering around trying to put my life back together, Wheatley’s voice flowed out of the assigned readings and into my heart. She just made so darn much sense. I go back to her writings for perspective over and over. I found this quote a few days ago and wanted to share it with you. Because it’s a great reminder that every one of us can make a difference — just by starting a conversation.
“Paulo Freire described love as ‘an act of courage, not fear.’ When we find the courage to approach those we fear, that is a gesture of love.
When we’re brave enough to risk a conversation, we have the chance to rediscover what it means to be human. In conversation, we practice good human behaviors. We think, we laugh, we cry, we tell stories of our day. We become visible to one another. We gain insights and new understandings. And as we stay in conversation, we may discover that we want to be activists in our world. We get interested in what we can do to change things. Conversation wakes us up. We no longer accept being treated poorly. We become people who work to change our situation.
Conversation helps us reclaim these very human capacities and experiences. That is a gesture of love.
This may sound strange, but conversation is the practice of freedom. As we think together, as we question things, as we are stirred to act to change things, we exercise our innate right to be free. Freire said that a genuine act of love always generates ‘other acts of freedom; otherwise, it is not love’. So freedom and love are intimately related. When our action create freedom for ourselves and other, that too is a gesture of love.”