When spiders unite they can tie down a lion. -African Proverb
Participating in collective action is a powerful experience. The feeling of being part of a communal effort that yields tangible results is hard to describe. Actual involvement is different than just hearing about it or reading about it. It is actually pretty incredible what can happen when a community of people come together and focus their collective energy on a target change. It is powerful to see first-hand how joining efforts with a group of people can impact meaningful and transformative change. Experiencing the beautiful connectedness of community is one thing, but participating in collective action takes that sense of belonging to a whole other level. Seeing the positive manifestation of our communal efforts can increase hope and empowerment, build lasting relationships, create inner transformation, energize and lift us up, and strengthen commitment to continued collective engagement.
The importance of community is a common theme in African proverbs and is present in wisdom throughout the world. Throughout human history, there are many examples of people coming together in the face of external threat and danger. Yet, the potential of collective action for the betterment of humanity has not been consistently and fully realized. It can be challenging to unite people and mobilize engagement in communal action toward change. What interferes with people joining collective social change efforts? Apathy, individualistic values, not having time and being “too busy”, being depleted or overwhelmed by daily life, feeling helpless, and being separated from community can all stem from the way oppression operates to keep people distracted, disconnected, and disempowered. And the less we participate in social and liberatory change efforts, the more that oppression is left to operate unchecked. Disrupting this cycle and strengthening our communal bonds are necessary if we are to unite and tie down that lion.
With Peace, Love, and Soulfulness,
Dr. Shelly Harrell