The votes are counted. Peaceful transformation happens!

I have been disheartened of late. The vectors of change around the world have been depressing…everyday another mark against the possibility of collaborative revolution for the common good. A world that works for all children of all species?! Get real. Most recently the death of fellow action researcher Dr. Martha Farrell, killed in Kabul while giving gender equality training. She was in the very same hotel as the dear sister of one of our ARJ board members who was murdered in similar circumstances a year ago. Patriarchy strikes back! Then the almost unbearable revelations of how young women have been violated as chattel by the Islamist fundamentalists boko haram. Closer to home the US fundamentalist right wing with their arrogance on fire.

Yet today the votes have been counted. Ireland, my country of origin, voted in a national referendum to become the first nation in the world to legalize gay marriage. I am floored. Centuries of repression have been gently stepped over. Just like that. Well that and decades of collaborative organizing to make it happen! Transformation happened. Transformation happens. And peacefully.

-PLL, Hilary

This is part of a blog series from the AR+ conveners’ desk.

I have been very disheartened as well about the direction of things the last few months. I think as I mentioned, I was shaken from this state by reading a book by dear friend Malcolm McIntosh who has survived two death sentences by doctors…he thought the book would be published post-humously…and he’s now taken up a position at University of Bath Spa and offered to host our book-writing process.

In his book he wrote how he shifted “miserabilist”, now reborn an optimist. A shift for me was to recognize how I’m going through with respect to our natural environment and the inevitable crisis that will claim hundreds of millions if not billions of lives is what might be likened to Kubler Ross’s death and dying process of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. In this model, however, “acceptance” has been accompanied by a renewed sense of commitment to grow our ability to influence change and the direction it takes. We’re indeed well into the anthropocene, the changes will continue to be incredible and historically unsurpassed, and yet we have arising within us the ability to craft the future by amplifying and emerging small possibilities that can have enormous impact to shift the direction of the future that will indeed be very different but can also be flourishing.

We will certainly have victims along the way, such as your dear AR colleagues and indeed perhaps ourselves, but they provide also the example of commitment to supporting the emergence of our better future that can also inspire and strengthen our own commitment in the face of incredible odds. swaddell

I think it’s really important that each of us can ‘be the change we want to see in the world’ as Gandhi said. Our efforts may seem small and insignificant, but WE are the only ones who can bring about change in our specific situations, be they within a classroom, a family, or a wider society.

Well back in the day I remember reading Malcolm Muggeridge’s biography of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. He asked her why she did the work that she did, considering the scale of the problem. Wasn’t it just a drop in the ocean? Her reply was along the lines of, ‘Well, the ocean has one fewer drops because I am doing what I am doing’. I think the challenge is not to become so dispirited by the size of the task that we do nothing. On the environment, I have been a paid-up member of the Green Party in New Zealand for twenty years now and work with my grandkids to see what we can do locally and globally to act ethically and sustainably. Educationally, I use action research and living educational theory approaches to try to improve my own practice and that of those I work with as a staff developer, as and when they want to engage. Hang on in there and don’t get depressed by that ‘disheartenment’! fergpip

As for me, I am heartened. My ‘notoriously’ conservative province of Alberta in Canada elected into office in May 2015 the New Democratic Party, the Canadian version of social democracy. I feel comfortable as a participatory action research practitioner in my own home. Seeds planted years ago are taking root. For my friends and colleagues everywhere, please take hope from Alberta. tpyrch