Monday, November 14, 2016
Jake HershmanIt’s tempting. That primitive instinct kicks in and beckons us to do whatever it takes to purge the welling fear, disorientation and anger “caused” by the circumstances spiraling around us. For me, it takes a millisecond to slide into the escalating dissonance of voices and commentary enveloping our country today -- my feeble attempt to analyze my way out of the feeling. Or perhaps we tell ourselves that we’ll feel better if we can find somebody to blame for our predicament; and when we find them, we’ll outsmart them, or outtalk them – maybe outvote them and then begin preparing for the counterpunch that is sure to come.
For those inclined to avoid conflict, there is the allure of getting ahead of our worries by outhustling them – by working unceasingly for justice, by conjuring up the most impactful community change programs, by restlessly working to figure out how our “salt and light” vocation can best diminish the anxiety within and around us. And the spiral continues, the confusion grows, the gulf between each of us becomes deeper and deeper….
Since joining the Initiatives of Change USA team seven months ago, I have invested considerable time in trying to understand the fundamental tenets of this esteemed movement. I have identified deeply with the IofC’s “personal change” foundation for all broader social change – a change in oneself that literally is possible only with an accountable appraisal of the manner in which our attitudes and behaviors impact those around us. Where else are you hearing that kind of idea these days?! I have connected with the IofC’s belief in the mighty power of our individual and collective stories – an awakening process that requires an unnatural vulnerability in our body and spirit. I have continued to expose myself to the  tools and people within the IofC network who equip us to better facilitate dialogue, understanding, and trustbuilding.
But ironically, it wasn’t until this month’s electoral tremor in the US and the accumulating aftershocks that the most distinguishing and timely element of the IofC profile began to more deeply dawn on me – it’s spiritual discipline of listening. Just as I have considerable personal growth to achieve before I reflect the type of patient and consistent listening to God and conscience that will enable me to live truly free, so too must our US communities now find the discipline and fortitude to still and humble ourselves, to silently listen and reflect on what we mean to one another. I am honored to be a part of a movement that models this approach to the world, and in so doing, actually offers a set of hopeful steps for our country to ascend towards a place of true healing.