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Sometimes we need inspiration, especially in the form of pertinent examples from the past, to help us to navigate a shockingly turbulent present. Our current intersections of racism, systemic poverty, misogyny, LGBTQ assaults, and climate change with fascistic methods of governing a country that has prided itself on its democratic traditions for centuries deliver a call to action like no other in recent history. How do we answer, and keep answering, the calls to protect citizens and non-citizens, animals, plants, birds and insects, the very air we breathe, the water we drink, the earth that grows all that is? The most important answer to these questions is to participate in at least one of the hundreds of movements that have arisen to protect hard won democratic freedoms and all human and non-human inhabitants of our Earth home.
The Example of Harold Evans and his Expose of Thalidomide Crimes
“When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” This saying, often attributed to the Buddha, reminds us that we are first and foremost, students of life. These days, because of life’s increasing complexity, we have need of many different kinds of teachers. Social science researchers such as Angela Duckworth are helping us to demystify human behaviours that lead to dissatisfaction, depression, and even violent psychosis. Her book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, helps us to understand how the challenges of effecting change can be met by cultivating passion, perseverance, and a willingness to see our failures as necessary steps to meeting our goals. In her thesis on the value of failure, Duckworth has become one of our important teachers in the struggle against depression and defeat.
Harold Evans, newspaper editor and champion of people who were devastated by the greed and arrogance of politicians and profit-at-any-cost business executives, eventually helped Britain’s Thalidomide families move out of the shadows of victimization and to attain social and economic justice. As an exemplar of passion and perseverance in the face of institutional heartlessness and corruption, Harold Evan’s is a vital teacher, for our times. You can see the complete documentary, Attacking the Devil: Harold Evans and the Last Nazi War Crime here, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fb1jwjaFads or you can watch this documentary on Netflix. Following his process of editorial campaigning to keep the Thalidomide families and their issues in the public eye is comparable to the Spotlight team relentlessly pursuing the hard stories as they uncovered case after case of sexual abuse by priests in the Catholic Church. This kind of in-depth, deep back ground reporting not only ruffles establishment feathers but puts the newspapers doing this important work at risk of lawsuits. And, as the current administration becomes more entrenched, responsible, fact-based news reporting comes under greater threat.
These times require heroic actions. Harold Evans shows us how to win through perseverance, passion, and, in these markedly uncivil times, civility. He and his fellow researchers and writers also illustrate the process of respectful teamwork. Their methods of determined reporting illustrate how we can effect change even in the face of great resistance to change. We can all form supportive coalitions, partnerships, and community teams to effect changes that protect our planet and all our diverse inhabitants.
Happily, there are examples of countless contemporary resistance movements rising everywhere, from North Dakota to Florida, and from California to Maine. Despite the challenges of these uncertain times, there are many people who have stepped forward to become teachers of respect, civility, honesty, and trustworthiness. There is a place for each of us in the resistance movements to end racism, misogyny, and undemocratic government actions. Aligning our energies with the energies of positive agency, truth telling, and civility grows the pool of teachers and exemplars we need to keep on keeping on.
Until next time,
Jane Buchan, MA, AAMET Advanced Practitioner, firstname.lastname@example.org, 802-533-9277
Jane is a Learning Coach specializing in neutralizing cultural age, gender, and race constructs to support learners of every age. To engage her coaching services, please contact Jane by phone (802) 533-9277 or email, email@example.com. Be sure to put Coaching Query in the subject line.