When it comes to being an activist, are you more the type to stand on stage or lead the parade? Or are you more of an introvert? Maybe you’d prefer to stamp envelopes  or organize things behind the scenes.  In her new book, MICRO ACTIVISM: How You Can Make a Difference in the World Without a Bullhorn, author and activism coach Omkari Williams opens our minds to making an impact in our own unique ways.

If you’re thinking, “Well, I’m not an activist,” press play. You might be surprised.

About:

Author & Activism Coach, Omkari Williams, is the author of “MICRO ACTIVISM: How You Can Make a Difference in the World Without a Bullhorn.” She leads workshops and trainings and is host of the popular podcast, Stepping into Truth, where she interviews people doing activism in their own unique ways. To help people identify their own way of activism she created the Activist Archetype Quiz ©. Williams was born and raised in Manhattan and now lives in western Massachusetts.

Omkari has worked as a political consultant and life coach for 30 years, with an emphasis on supporting activists who identify as introverted or highly sensitive. As a queer Black woman, she shares her own story of challenging injustice to empower others in making a difference in their communities.

Connect:

OmkariWilliams.com
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​Transcript

When it comes to being an activist, are you more the type to stand on stage or lead the parade? Or are you more of an introvert? Maybe you’d prefer to stamp envelopes or organize things behind the scenes. In her new book, Micro Activism, How You Can Make a Difference in the World Without a Bullhorn, author and activism coach Omkari Williams opens our minds to making an impact in our own unique ways. I learned so much from this conversation, and if you’re sitting there thinking, well, I’m not an activist, keep listening. You might be surprised. This is the Grown-Ass Woman’s Guide. I’m your host, Jackie MacDougall. 

Omkari Williams is a workshop facilitator and host of the popular podcast, Stepping into Truth, where she interviews people doing activism in their own unique ways. In this episode, she helps us get clarity on what we stand for and how to stand up for the causes. We believe in spoiler alert. It is not through posting on social media. Let’s dive in.

Micro-activism, How You Can Make a Difference in the World Without a Bullhorn.

Exactly.

Many people out there are going to be like, okay, I’m leaning in, tell me more. So before we get into micro activism though, I want to start with the broad strokes. What makes someone an activist?

I think really what makes someone an activist is they see a problem and they say, I need to do something about it, however small my contribution may be. It is not okay with me to just sit on the sidelines and be a spectator. I need to do what I can do. and that’s really what activism is, is doing what you can do. And for some people, it’s standing on a stage and for other people, it’s stuffing envelopes. It doesn’t really matter. And the only reason we think it matters is because we’re in a society that tells us that being the center of attention matters. But that’s not the whole story.

Based on your book and your research, how many people are out there who want to do something, but haven’t found that sweet spot for them and their skills?

You know, originally, when I started the book, I was really thinking of specifically aiming it at introverts and highly sensitive people. And I did a little research and the statistics I came up with indicate that that’s about 55% of the population.

Really?

Yeah. Would self identify as one or both of those things. And I thought, that’s a lot of people, you know? I mean, that was 55 percent of the population in the United States, but people are people, and I think you can reasonably extrapolate that those numbers aren’t going to be that different across the world. And I thought, that’s just a massive amount of people. And then when I pulled back, I thought even people who are self proclaimed extroverts don’t always know what to do. At that point, I broadened the scope of the book and I thought I’m not going to just write this for introverts. I’m going to write this for everybody because most people want to leave the world a better place than they found it. And they just need a little direction on how to get there.

Right. I think about that cause I think I consider myself an extrovert, but there’s also a fear sometimes like that maybe we’re going to do it wrong.

Fear is a real thing. I mean, nobody likes making mistakes. Nobody. Sometimes we learn to make them with more grace, but nobody likes it. I mean, there’s a reason it’s a mistake. It’s because it’s the wrong thing to do. Who wants to do the wrong thing?

But I do think that we need to develop a bit of, not thicker skin, but a more resilient attitude. So we say mistakes are inevitable. There’s no way I’m getting through this without making some, my goal is to learn and not make twice, rather than my goal is to make no mistakes, which means I sit home in my house all alone and I do nothing because there’s no way to interact with people and not from time to time, make a mistake. It’s just not possible.

So true. So let’s talk about micro activism. you just took a concept that sounds so big and you made it so completely manageable. And so can you kind of dive into micro activism, what that might look like?

Okay, so to make it less manageable, micro activism can look as different as any of the eight billion people on the planet, right? We each get to do it our way. And that actually is my point is there isn’t 1 way of activism. There’s your way and your way works for you. And it doesn’t need to work for anybody else. It needs to be something that you can do on a sustainable, consistent basis. And that’s what micro activism is, it’s consistent, sustainable actions that you take in service of a cause that is really near and dear to your heart. And that part, that last part, the near and dear to your heart is really important because that’s what keeps you going.

That’s the piece that keeps you going when you make a mistake, when things are hard, when someone tells you that you don’t know what you’re talking about, when someone gives you bad news about something you were working on, is that it matters to you enough to keep going? That’s the main criteria. And from there, you get to make up the rules as you go along with what it looks like for you.

Right. So you talk about stuffing envelopes as a form of activism. What are some of the other ones that maybe we’re not thinking about?

One of the things that I really love is libraries. My first job ever was in a library when I was a teenager and I love them. They’re just like these wonderful little magical places. And one of the things I really love is walking into a library and seeing someone reading to a bunch of little kids. To me, that’s activism, right? So you can do that. You can decide that once a month. You’re going to make a meal and you’re going to give it to some unhoused person that you see on the street. You can decide to start a community garden and you don’t have to run it. You just have to participate. You know, you can make it be everybody’s part of the whole thing and everybody gets to do their thing. And you take the proceeds to your local food bank. It doesn’t really matter. Because I feel like, again, with eight billion people on the planet, if we all did something, we’d cover everything.

Right. That was the part that really got me and sparked my curiosity was what are some of the other ways we can be activists without, you know, I’ve got fears of crowds. I’m not going to be at the parade or the demonstration or that’s just not for me. And I think we do, like you mentioned earlier, we start to judge ourselves like, Hmm.

Yeah. Yeah, I have a friend who, I mean, I think she’d rather sit home with a sharp object in her eye than go to a march. I mean, really, seriously. And she’s a really gifted artist. So what she does is she makes little postcards and I profile her in the book. And these postcards are little works of art. And what she’s doing is she is getting people to go and vote. Well, she’s encouraging them to go and vote and it’s not, Oh, go vote for this candidate. It’s no, it’s just go vote in this local election that you might otherwise not know about. And they’re so cute that when you get them, you’re definitely going to put them on your refrigerator because it’s such a pretty piece of art and it’s going to make you more likely to look into that election that you otherwise might have completely ignored and take action on it. And that’s the point.

Yeah. And I think you make an interesting point in that not only can we do different things as activists, but the people on the receiving end, right? Somebody on the receiving end might be great with a conversation about voting. Another person wants a beautiful piece of art to start to consider, you know, we can’t be in people’s faces all the time and then expect a result.

And nor should we be. I mean, would you want someone in your face all the time? You would not. So, you know, why would we do that to someone else? So I think that the point is to really understand that we can do these things in our own way. Understanding our own particular sensitivities and sensibilities and give people the option to listen to what we have to say, or maybe move on to someone whose message resonates more powerfully for them.

Yeah, I think if people are out there doing things in a variety of different ways, they’re going to attract. different people to join them.

To help people identify their own way of activism. Omkari created the activist archetype quiz, which you can find in the book. It is an eye opening way to discover where it is best to focus your activist efforts.

The point is to really say, if this is how you score, if these are the categories where you have strengths, then look for things where this is what you’re doing. Don’t try and put yourself into a box that doesn’t fit you. If you score a hundred percent indispensable, don’t try and do the job of the headliner. You’re going to be miserable. Why would you do that to yourself? You will not be able to sustain that. Whereas if you do the work that you can do happily and without burning yourself to a crisp, then you can stay in it for the long haul. And that’s what we’re looking for. 

You see it all the time. People come out, you talk about it in the book, go big or go home, you know, and they come out and they’re like ready to be on this cause. And then within six months it’s like, I can’t do this anymore. So how, how do you manage that showing up and doing the work, but also taking care of yourself?

Well, first of all, you need to understand what your capacity is so that you’re not making unrealistic expectations and demands on yourself. Right? So that you’re not saying, oh, you know, I can do this thing. And the truth is, no, you really can’t not for the long haul. And just because it looks good, in your mind, or it looks like what you think activism has to look like. Don’t let yourself get sucked into that. That’s not the point. The point is really to find the thing that you are good enough, not even perfect at, good enough at, that you know you’re making a positive contribution, and keep doing that. And then you can grow, and you can expand, and you can develop more skills, and you might want to spread out and do something else. start with the thing that you’re good at, that you like doing and that you feel like I’m competent so I can keep doing this. Don’t, don’t overextend yourself to start and also recognize that, you know, we live in this culture that’s always talking about self care. Real self care, in my opinion, is about building resilience. It’s not just about spa days, although I love a spa day. I will never say no, but that’s not it. It’s really building resilience. It’s finding the things that allow you to stay in the work of change making.

Right. The sustainable angle is absolutely part of that self care, like knowing, knowing when to push, when to back off, when to say no. These are all things that we as grown-ass women are trying to balance, right? I hate the word balance, but like it’s the right word.

You know, and I think when I think of the word balance, you know, I think people tend to think of it as like, oh, things should be equal. And I don’t think of it that way. I think of it more as a cycle. Where are you putting the majority of your energy? And that over time it balances out, but it doesn’t have to be 5050 all the time. So that’s not always appropriate. You know, if you have 2 children under the age of 50, Three, your capacity is going to be really different than if you’re a retiree who has, you know, all the time in the world to do whatever they want. You have to pay attention to where you are in your life cycle and the demands that are being made on you. If you’re going to actually be able to choose sustainable paths to doing the work that you have decided you want to commit to.

And being able to say that this is as much as I can give right now and be okay with that.

And be fine with that. You know, it’s not a competition.

Yeah, I think with some people it really is, let’s be real.

What some people are, as the words came out of my mouth, I thought what I should really be saying is it shouldn’t be a competition because it shouldn’t be. That’s not the point. You know, it’s not about one-ups-manship. It’s about making a difference. It’s about contributing to a world where people live in dignity.

This is not something we should be competing over.

And I do think that there are people out there who aren’t taking steps toward activism because they think it’s all or nothing, because they think they have to show up not only in a certain way, you know, at a certain time, at a certain frequency, around certain people and causes. I mean, I’ve even seen, don’t get me started with social media, where somebody’s on social media with a cause and somebody else is like, well, what about the blah, blah, blah. And it’s like, you’re totally missing the point here.

And I will say that I think actually social media is kind of a tool of the devil in this respect. Because it does really support competitiveness, and it supports really just performative actions. You know, it’s like just saying that you support this or you support that isn’t actually necessarily doing anything, but people can often feel like they have to speak up or people are going to say, well, why are you being silent? Don’t you care about this? And then it becomes this whole thing of, well, yeah, I do care, but you know, I don’t want to really get into a fight on the internet, or I just don’t think that I need to add my voice to this discussion in this way. Right. And it’s challenging because there’s so much pressure and people can be vicious. I mean. It’s not, it’s not helpful. And if our work is to be the work of social change, then I’m not exactly sure how being vicious really advances that cause.

Right. And I’m, I’m so glad you brought this up because when you think about in your daily life activism, you see people who do speak up on social media. And sometimes I see people and I find them to be brave and insightful and I learn from them. Um, that does not happen so often. And so I think you get to the point where maybe there’s a cause you care about. Maybe there’s something you want to share with other people. But a couple of things is you’re, you become a target. Often. And then the other one is you do face that whole, like, if you speak about one thing, you have to speak about all the things, whether you have any sort of knowledge about that thing or not. And then you feel like, Oh, I better do some research so I could speak to this. And I don’t think that’s bringing us anything.

You know, I think it’s really good to not speak to things about which we know nothing. I mean, I think that’s just generally a good position to take because otherwise you sound kind of like a fool, but I also think it’s good to know when you don’t really need to be the person contributing to the conversation or when it ‘s just not the platform in which you want to engage. I mean, I think there are people who have concerns about things. And rather than go to social media, they’ll write a really thoughtful newsletter or a blog piece where they can be more nuanced and just more clear about their position. And I really respect that because they’re just saying no to the pressure to respond to everything that comes across our feeds and I don’t think that that’s helpful.

Yeah. And, you know, you use the word performative and I have talked to a variety of different people. About how to speak up about something that you care about that maybe doesn’t like that doesn’t involve me directly, but I care about other people without. Seeming performative without seeming like I’m getting on a soapbox and look at like, listen, I am a straight white cisgender woman, you know? So I understand all the privilege and I understand that I have a voice and I can be helping people, but I don’t want to do that and actually bring harm to the cause because I look like I’m performing.

And I think that. It’s less about. what it looks like and more about what it actually is. People may think you’re being performative when you’re being completely sincere. You have no control over what people think. I have no control over what people think. If I did, it would be a very different world. but. I know when I need to speak up, and that’s when I speak up, and if I have a question about whether I should speak up, I tend to err on the side of keeping my mouth shut, just listening, and then if someone, you know, if I speak up and someone can, you know, accuses me of being performative, what am I going to do about that? You know, there are things over which I have no control, and the list is endless, so I’m trying to make peace with that. Some days go better than others, but it’s an ongoing struggle, but I don’t think that we need to basically be bullied into doing things a certain way and that’s part of the reason I wrote the book was I wanted people to realize you can do microactivism and you can do it your way you can make a difference and you can make that difference your way it doesn’t have to look like what your sister-in-law is doing or the guy down the street it doesn’t have to look like anything anyone else is doing you know the truth stick with that do what you can do keep going.

Yeah. And I think, you know, just to, I don’t want to stay on social media too much, but, if you’re listening right now and you’re wondering what to say or what to do on social media, maybe take a step back, read the book and see other ways that you can make a difference as you said before, it’s not necessarily the most effective tool. And so if you are stuffing envelopes, if you are writing to your local leaders, whatever it is that you’re doing, that might be a better use of your time than trying to quote unquote educate everybody out there on the interwebs.

Yeah. And I also think just keeping it local has real value because then you get to have an experience of what I’m doing landing for an actual other human being, and it takes it out of the realm of this intellectual thing and it brings it into the realm of reality. So, Maybe your cause is to end world hunger. I don’t really think there’s anyone who thinks that’s a bad idea. But I also don’t think that there’s any sane person who thinks they’re going to be able to do that by themselves. So rather than say, okay, I’d really like to end world hunger, but I can’t do that. What you could do is you could feed one person. And it doesn’t end world hunger, but it certainly matters to the person that you feed. And if we can scale our expectations down to human size, then we actually know what to do. Because we’re human. We know what would feel good for us. We know what it would feel like for someone to take care of something for us. We know this. But when we try and make it so big, we lose connection to that. And then we don’t know what to do. Then we get paralyzed.

Right. So when you get that way, come back, go smaller, go local.

Go, go as small, go so small that it seems silly not to do it. And then you’ll do it and you’re like, Oh yeah, that was totally easy. Let me do something a little bit harder next time, because that was ridiculously easy. And that’s how you build the muscle. You know, it’s that old thing of you not going out and running a marathon after never having run in your life. This is not different.

Yeah. I mean, you talk in the book about narrowing your focus and also determining what you stand for and writing a list. Can you talk about that a little bit?

I think that it’s really important to understand where you sort of locate yourself in the world in terms of the things that are important to you. And, you know, There’s so many things I care about. The list is really long. And what I realized at some point, ages ago, was I, I was spreading myself too thin and I was really just you. A crispy critter. It was not good. And I had to make a decision. And what I decided to do was limit myself to one, or at the most two, areas of interest at any given time. And it wasn’t like I was wedded to them. I could change. If something came up that took my attention in a different direction for a while, I could do that. But something else had to go off of that list. Because There’s limited capacity, there’s limited time, there’s limited resources and focusing. Not only do we make more inroads into whatever it is we’re doing, we actually generally get to see more results, and that helps us keep motivated. Whereas if we’re doing a little over here and a little over there, and we’re just doing that all of the time, it’s almost impossible to recognize whether what you’re doing is working or not, whether maybe you need to change your strategy or not. I mean, you just don’t have enough information coming back to give you direction. Also, you will be exhausted all the time. That’s not helpful for anyone.

Shallow versus deep work. What does that mean?

Okay, so back to social media. Mmhmm. Because I think that that is actually a really good analogy for this social media is generally speaking shallow. We put something on there, people glance at it for, you know, maybe 10 seconds and then they’re on to the next thing. I don’t even think it’s 10 seconds. I don’t remember how long it is, but it’s so short that it doesn’t really make a dent. Right? And it’s not that everything has to be deep because I don’t think that that’s actually even healthy. But if you’re going to be doing work and the goal of the work is to make meaningful change, then that work does need to be deep. Meaningful change doesn’t happen on the surface. Meaningful change doesn’t happen because we are talking about something on social media, but we don’t do anything about it in our actual, in-real-life lives. So deep work is the work that actually requires us to To think critically, to think deeply, to engage in difficult conversations, to look at what we’re doing and assess. Is this working? Is this not working? Where do I need to tweak this or that to get the result I’m trying to get? How can I be a better ambassador for the cause that I’m trying to champion? All of these things require us thinking and contemplating and educating ourselves, that’s deep work. Just reading something on the Internet and giving it a like. That’s shallow.

I’m done. That’s shallow, yeah.

You know, how is that helpful?

Yeah. What inspired you? I just wanna go back a little bit to your own story. Did you find yourself making some of these mistakes or assumptions or actions, taking actions that weren’t necessarily aligned with who you are, that you were like, I need to write this book.

Um, no, that wasn’t the motivation for writing the book actually, but have I done those things? Yes, I’ve done all of those things at various points in my life. I have done things and I was like, Oh no, you know what, really that is so out of integrity. Don’t ever do that again.

Do you have any examples of that?

None that I’m willing to share, but thank you for asking.

Sure. I love that answer too. That was grown ass!

But we do make mistakes and, you know, hopefully, as I said, we learn from them. But what I, I’ve always kind of known is that you have to pay attention to what is calling to you because that doesn’t actually tend to change very much. My first act of activism was trick or treating for UNICEF, and it was because my dad worked, he was a humanitarian, he worked in refugee aid and relief, and I understood that I was really privileged, you know, with all the obstacles that, Come with being a black girl in the United States. I had a stable life relative to so many other people on the planet and I wanted to make a difference so I trick or treated for UNICEF and I was so proud of however much money it was I collected and Every year that I trick or treated after that I did the same thing and then I started doing other things and As my capacity grew, right, as I got older and I knew more. And that’s actually, in some ways, never really changed. And so all of the work that I’ve done to this point in my life, I mean, I was an actor and I was a political consultant. I’m sure I’m, this is my penance for that. Um, I, you know, all of those things have led me here with the understanding that we bring our stories with us. And if we are wise, we use our stories to inform our work, and we use our stories to connect with other people, and we use our stories to expand our understanding of humanity, not contract it. So, all of that is to say that the book came about because honestly, someone asked me if I’d be interested in writing it, and what I realized as I sat down to write it was, I really knew what I wanted to say. I was really clear about what I wanted to say. I wanted to get people to do something because honestly, it breaks my heart. It breaks my heart that the world is in the state it’s in and that we can’t have a conversation with people who have a different opinion than us because. We just don’t. I mean, I, I, I just, I see no path forward for us. If we don’t figure out how to stop that behavior and start having conversations again,

Have you gotten any pushback from people who are like, Oh, I’m not an activist or, or just assume that the book is something that it really isn’t.

I haven’t yet, but I have had people in my workshops say, I really don’t think I’m an activist and then by the end of the workshop, they’re generally saying, oh, yeah, no, I am because I do this and I do this and I do that and they just don’t give themselves credit because it’s not the big front facing thing that they think activism is in their, in their minds and understandably so given the environment in which we live. And I mean, my mission is to get people across the globe. If I could get every person across the globe involved in micro activism involved in making a positive difference on some issue that they care about, that would be amazing. But I’ll take, you know, however many people I can get, I just know that once people start to understand how much impact they can have. It’s a very different experience. I mean, there’s a real joy in it. And I want that for myself. I want that for other people. I want that for our world because we really need it.

Right. And I think there are so many women out there, that’s who I’m talking to, that have a skill, right? And so I have two non profits that I volunteer my time doing writing and social media and press releases and things like that because that’s, Easy for me. You know, that’s, that doesn’t take a lot. It’s just, Oh, let me, I have a template, I’m going to knock something out or whatever.

And I enjoy it. If I had to be the person who did, the books, you know, the financials for these organizations, they would, well, their doors would close very quickly, but, but it would feel like pulling teeth. And so I do like that. You talk about finding what you’re good at.

Hmm. I, for instance, am not good at social media. It is not my happy place. I do it because I have to, but it’s a struggle for me. That’s the truth of it. It’s not my gift. And, I’ve made my peace with that. I’m a little bitter about it, but, you know, I basically made my peace with that and I just focus on what I am good at, you know, and what I’m good at is getting people to see what they’re good at. And that’s really so gratifying because everyone’s got a skill. Everybody has a skill and it may not be a skill that you can make a living off of, but it’s undoubtedly a skill that you can use to make someone’s life a little bit better. With like nothing in, out of, you know, out of stuff that is, you look in their refrigerator and you’re thinking, how are you doing that?

Right. It’s like the MacGyver of food.

Yeah, exactly. I like that.

Yeah, I think that that’s a really important point for somebody to stop right now and just think like, what am I good at? Well, what is that skill that comes so easily to me, that gift that I could for an hour, a month even, or an hour a week or whatever it is, offer up that skill. And I like that you talked about locally, because I think if we do focused locally and everyone focused locally…

Then you’ve covered the whole world.

Exactly. And all these bridges would be built from this local to that local to the, you know, and it’s so powerful.

Yeah. and there’s so much joy in it because you build community and you then have a real visceral understanding of. Our interconnection in the best possible way, you know, it’s, you know, it’s like, oh, you know, you, you need this thing. Well, I’ve got this and I can loan it to you. You know, you need a hammer. Don’t buy a hammer. I’ve got a hammer here. Use my hammer. You need someone to write that press release. Okay. I have just the person for you and, And all of a sudden we realized that we’re working together towards this goal, and we’ve got it with all of us. We’ve got it. And I just think that’s remarkable.

Absolutely. And I think even more needed because we’re working remotely or possibly hybrid, but, you know, and here in the suburbs, you pull into your garage or your driveway and you just get right into your house. And it’s not like this. It’s not the same way it was when I was growing up in Massachusetts and even, I mean, I love my neighbors.

I know that if I had a problem, and I ran outside, they would absolutely help me, but it’s tough to connect when you’re working from home and everything’s digital and at the end of the day, you’re just spent.

That whole thing of being able to just rely on your neighbors sort of by default isn’t the same anymore, because, when people would just hang out in their yards and talk over their fences, that doesn’t happen so much anymore. And I think we’ve lost something in that and it’s kind of a shame, and I’m not quite sure how we get it back, but I think that we have to make very intentional choices and say, you know what, let’s maybe do a neighborhood block party every season in, well, not in the winter, maybe. Depends. Yeah. You’re good out there, but you know, three seasons a year, we’ll do a spring, summer, and fall block party and just get to know people just sort of. Open your heart to the experience of your neighbors and see how they are and who they are and, you know, meet their dog and meet their kids and meet their grandkids and just. Understand them, even if you don’t necessarily share political beliefs or whatever, you share a neighborhood, so you all care about that little thing. You can find the thing that you all care about and go from there.

Absolutely. And you talk about that in the book where, like, collaborating with groups that maybe don’t believe the same thing as you. And that kind of blew my mind a little bit because I would never think like, okay, this group feels opposite of what we do. How do you go to a group that stands for something different and try to collaborate with them?

So I will use an example from someone I interviewed for my podcast a few years ago, and it was. Such an interesting story. so, you know, the United States prison system is kind of a mess. And I don’t really think there’s anybody who would legitimately argue otherwise. We incarcerate far, far too many people. And this organization wanted to get this legislation passed, which would release low level drug offenders, you know, people who’ve been arrested for pot. I mean, stuff that’s legal now in a lot of places. And they were a very progressive group, and they wound up teaming up with, of all people, Newt Gingrich, and, I know, you should see your face, and other people like Newt Gingrich, and I said to her, What? Here’s the thing, it was these two groups coming at it at the same problem from different points of view, the progressives were coming at it from the point of view of we’re incarcerating people for really no reason. They’ve no one’s been harmed. This is ridiculous. And the conservatives were coming at it from the perspective of we believe in second chances. So let’s see what we can do. These people have not harmed anyone. This is not, you know, and they actually came together and crafted legislation that was passed, which who would have thought? I mean, who would have thought? So a shared goal for different reasons. And coming at it from different perspectives, but still it was a shared goal and they were able to get to it. And I’ve always thought that that was so very important.

Yeah. It’s a great example because I would never think that those two groups would work together. And so it takes a little bit of creativity and open-mindedness.

It definitely takes an open mind. And I mean, I think it also takes. And this is something I think is in very short supply right now. I think it takes being willing to believe that other people are people of goodwill, as are you, and we tend to demonize one another and go, well, you know, that person voted over for that person, so they must be a terrible human. And I’m just not going to have anything to do with them.

Yeah.

We’re so much more complicated than that. And to devolve to that being how we are judging who we will even be in conversation with, I’m not talking about hate speech. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m just talking about people with whom you have a disagreement on policy. You know, it’s policy, that’s what you’re going to let decide whether you talk to your uncle or not. Come on now,

Yeah. And I think It gets to the best of us. I’ve done it with people where I’m like, Oh, they have, I see that flag or I see that sticker or I see whatever it is. And I think, well, they must not be a good person, you know, and I have to stop myself and walk through that.

Yeah, and it’s hard because you know, when I see people flying certain flags, I’m like, oh no, and beyond that, sometimes this actual very real, is it safe issue or is it another issue of judging their whole character? You know, people change, people change, people grow, but we do not change, we do not grow if we only ever speak to people who think exactly like we think, and that’s it, because at that point, what should be a community is becoming a cult. If we’re not having conversations that push us in some way, then we’re just, we’re, you know, we’re in an echo chamber and that, that is actually kind of what a cult is an echo chamber. And I think we need to be more critical about our own demands on ourselves. For expanding outside of our comfort zone of conversation and communication and just being willing to listen and say to someone, tell me more. I want to understand how you got to thinking that because I don’t understand right now, but I would like to understand. So tell me more.

It doesn’t mean you’re going to buy into what they say. But you might learn something.

Right. Might learn something about their upbringing. You might learn something about an experience they had.

Like why they got there. And you might learn something about yourself as well. Because if you really find that you have no capacity to accept Someone else’s differing opinion. What is that saying about you? I mean, how is that not as bad as right?

Right. It’s often very hypocritical that it’s like, oh, well they think this way. I’m going to shut them down immediately. When the thing you see is that they’re shutting other people down immediately.

Right, exactly And that’s exactly it. That’s you know, that’s like that kind of group think that is not helpful

Yeah. So true. That cult thing just blew my mind a little bit.

Because I mean really, you know, if you look at how cults work, everyone thinks exactly the same thing. Dissent is not allowed, and you cut off people from your life who have a different opinion. And I think we’ve been, we’ve, we as a larger society, we’ve been doing this in increasingly large numbers over the last several years, and it’s really damaging.

Yeah. Well, it feels easier to cut them off than to actually, I mean, it’s, it’s painful, I think for many people who are fighting for rights, who are fighting for a voice to have somebody else just out there. It just feels, it feels hateful. So it’s like, it’s easier to just shut it off than to actually get into that discomfort with that person.

And it is painful. I mean. Because why, you know? I look at some of the legislation that’s being passed in certain states, and I just think, why are you doing this? What? How has this person, how has this group of people harmed you that you would be doing something that is so harmful? That is so unkind. Why? And it’s almost always fear, which gets often disguised as aggression. Right? But if we could have a conversation, um, The possibility then at least exists that A, we will learn something and B, they might learn something and perhaps something can change since we don’t change anyone else’s mind and they don’t change ours. We have to be willing to take in new information in order for our thinking to evolve.

And you talk about expanding and I think as human beings, we can expand when we allow for other people’s perspectives to be part of the conversation.

Yeah. And, you know, again, it’s not saying that you tolerate hate speech because I don’t.

Correct.

This is a different thing. This is just, we all have opinions and we all come to them from our own experience and understanding someone’s experience is a gateway and we should be willing to at least hear what they have to say before we decide that, oh, you’re not worth my time. We wouldn’t want someone doing that to us. So why are we doing it to other people so readily?

Right. I need to listen to every episode of your podcast. You’ve made me think so much today. For more, visit omkariwilliams.com or connect with her on LinkedIn and Instagram. And if you take one thing from this episode, It should be this.

I think the one key takeaway is that everyone has something they can contribute and to find your way and just do that. Don’t worry about what other people think. Don’t worry about fixing everything. Do the thing that you can do that will move the needle. And keep having faith that other people are doing the same thing. I have immense faith in people’s humanity, and I think that we just need to remember that we do really share the same goals, and we share the same dreams, and we share the same heartbreaks, and to just come from that place as opposed to the place of, I’m right, you’re wrong, the end. And it would be a very different world.

 

Thanks so much for listening. For more information, links to related episodes and a transcript of this episode, visit grownasswoman.guide/episode193. And let’s connect! I’m on social media at grownasswoman.guide. Until next time you are a Grown-Ass Woman. Act accordingly. 

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