From the Book: “When in doubt, listen”

I selected the phrases for my coloring book to say what I thought might be most important to others within the activist community.  But because the coloring book simply has the coloring pages without commentary, I thought I might use this venue to elaborate a bit on why I chose to include what I did.

“When in doubt, listen.”

Trying to do good in the world is an undertaking fraught with moments of uncertainty and discouragement.  How do you start?  How can you do the most good?  What if you’re not succeeding?  Are you really meeting a need?

I believe that if you have a purpose in mind, some kind of guiding goal, getting yourself back on a path towards that goal is easier.  Those kinds of visionary purposes allow us to measure what we’re doing against what we want to do.  But even then, it’s sometimes difficult to know whether we’re on the right track or even moving in the right direction.

In those times of doubt, the best thing to do is listen.  Listen to those you’re trying to help.  Listen to the people you’re working with.  Listen to those who oppose you.  Listen to your supporters and your critics.  Don’t agree or disagree right away, don’t debate, just listen.

Whether we like it or not, when it comes to impacting the world around us, our actions produce a response.  That response lets us know how we’re doing.  Ideally, we should be getting positive feedback from our allies.  If they are giving us suggestions, criticisms, and resistance, perhaps we’re not on the right path towards a positive impact.  And likewise we should not ignore what it said by our critics.  Some of what is said is likely legitimate feedback.

When changing the world gets truly difficult, maybe it’s time to let the world help us change our approach.

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