The Spark Collective's Reflections on Resistance
Roe v Wade overturned. The UK Bill of Rights proposals. The UK Schools Act proposals. Domestic abuse libel cases played out for multimedia audiences worldwide. War with Russia. How do we keep moving forwards in the face of these kinds of political issues?
The words "dystopian hellscape" have never felt quite so accurate as in the past few weeks. In my Saturday morning call with the wonderful people in my rolling programme - the Spark Collective - we took the chance to unload our emotional baskets. If you're feeling grief, deep sadness, cold horror, bewilderment, anger, the need to scream or just total numb disbelief, I can promise you that you're not alone. We're right there with you.
The current political landscape worldwide feels like a deliberate push to overturn the progress made by activists over the last 100 years. The rights that have been fought for and gained by feminism, the Civil Rights Movement and Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ+ activism, and disability activism and advocacy are being challenged globally at the moment. There's a certain category of society that stands to benefit from this push, and if you're reading this blog I doubt you fit it but I guarantee you are affected by it.
If you're wondering where to go from here, again, you're not alone.
In Spark, our focus is centred on our personal development but everyone there is also proudly progressive. We care passionately about the rights of others and we're all working at some level to create the change we want to see in the world. That impact extends from raising children all the way through to political activism, and it's a wide and varied spectrum between those two points. We're changemakers at heart.
As one person pointed out, a lot of activism is currently being led by women, gender-diverse folk and members of minority groups at a community level. We're making changes at a local level and seeing results. The potential impact of collaboration between all these amazing powerful changemakers must be pretty terrifying to the people benefiting from all this pushback. Feels like a pretty clear driver for their rights reversing agenda...
But I'll be damned if I'm going to let their fear stop me or the amazing people I support, so once our baskets were emptied we shifted our focus to regrouping, regathering strength and readying for resistance, Spark-style! What we came up with is a values-led approach to our resistance, and it felt too good to keep to ourselves so I'm sharing it in the hope it will inspire you to keep hope high in the fights to come.
The Spark Collective's Resistance Values
HERMITAGE - Embrace your inner hermit and take time away from the world. We can't all be on, all of the time. If you overdose on the news cycle, it will likely have a toll on your mental and physical health. Give yourself permission to retreat from it when you need to, as much as you need to. Indulge in the things that bring you joy. Connect with your loved ones. Rest. Activism starts with looking after you, every single time.
ACCEPTANCE - Our activism comes from a stance of loving all people equally. We recognise that in our current world some people need to be supported differently to others, but we also envision a world of justice. When you truly accept all people how they are, without the need to change them or distance them, then it is clear that the eventual aim should be to remove the structures of inequality altogether and imagine something radically new. Let's bring our attention to accepting and celebrating diversity.
KINSHIP - Find your people. This morning, we were so present to how being in this space together gave us more strength than we could all summon individually. We entered with some big, uncomfortable emotions and we left feeling changed. Fortified. More ready to face the journey. If you're feeling isolated then change-making is a demoralising path. Find spaces that feel safe to you and others with the same hopes. Hold space for each other as needed.
GRACE - In Planned Parenthood's training programme, workers are apparently warned that one day, they may be called upon to treat the women who have been protesting outside, and to bring the same standards of care and respect that they would to any other patient. That kind of selflessly given kindness can be hard to come by when standing in the face of hate. It's not saying "don't be angry" - your feelings are there to be felt, after all - but the leaders that we are drawn to all bring grace to the difficult interactions. We're aiming to embody the same (and give ourselves grace too when we fall short!)
REDEMPTION - You might know people who are celebrating what feels abhorrent to you, or those who have done that in the past. You can and should protect your energy from them as needed, but remember that they are likely coming from a place of societal gaslighting. It is in the interests of the powerful to keep the rest of us divided and looking for scapegoats, and often they tell us where we should see them. Yes, there are some people who will never deviate from their views, but there are also those who will. We're holding out hope for changing hearts and minds.
This isn't a perfect recipe - there are times when this will feel impossible and our big emotions will rise again - maybe even today. But articulating these values has given the Spark Collective members a place to return to when we need them. Directions when we are lost. Something to spark the flames again.
We hope they help you too.