A Unifying Voice

20140401_1840481I don’t know about you, but I get so frustrated with our government, and with people in general these days. It seems that nothing gets done about the serious issues facing our world. I just had a conversation with a co-worker this morning regarding the violence our grandchildren will grow up with. Fraught with waste and corruption, government funded agencies have become ineffective at solving the exploding social problems facing us today. Is it too late to change our culture of violence? I don’t believe that.

We are facing a crisis of competent leadership in this time of social change and uncertainty. It seems that most people “in charge” make decisions based on self-interest rather than social benefit. Today’s leaders lack a passion for trailblazing positive social change, particularly when they could be met with resistance from the public, or when it requires a great deal of extra efforts. Too many so-called leaders are driven by the fear of failure, and by the possibility of losing those highly coveted political perks that they have been accustomed to.

At the same time, I am encouraged by the number of emerging grassroots activists who carry a passion for people. They work tirelessly to enact change and to make our world a better place in which to live. Unfortunately, too many activists tend to be followers and pawns of politicians, rather than leaders for positive change. They are often unorganized and  untrained in effective outreach strategies. Having little or no resources for education and advocacy, they are often unable to produce sustained results.

How then, should we make use of rising social advocacy in light of dwindling leadership and resources? I feel that the answer lies in coalition building, where knowledge and resources are shared throughout all levels of each involved organization. The Joyful Heart Foundation, in partnership with the Avon Foundation for Women, the National Coalition against Domestic Violence, and a multitude of other organizations, has succeeded  in doing this. Together they have built a comprehensive platform to end violence against women and provided a unifying voice for advocates; a voice that says, “NO MORE” abuse of any kind is going to be tolerated.

The phrase “NO MORE” sums up the message that women have had enough destruction in our families, and we refuse to accept the violence against our gender, the silence of our peers, and the excuses of society. The unifying  symbol, a chunky, teal “O,” is the banner that tells the world we matter, and our children matter. It is a reminder that we intend to improve the circumstances through which our lives pass. No more means we are taking control of our family’s future in order to bring peace back into our homes.

I’m encouraged by the men supporting us in this endeavor. Men with a progressive voice reject the form of masculinity that destroys lives, choosing instead to be men of integrity in their own homes – men who serve their families more than self-interest. They realize the destructive path that our present society has paved, and the lies they have believed, which have been handed down from fathers to sons throughout the generations. These men are brave enough to make necessary changes in their own lives, and to challenge their peers to do the same.

Supporters of the no more campaign are advocates who work tirelessly at sending our message out to the masses, challenging people to stop feeding what many call a “rape culture.” We encourage people to reject the entitlement mindset, which tells us we can have whatever we want, whenever we want it, regardless of whom we hurt. We ask people to view women and children as valuable assets to society rather than as objects of self-gratification. It is our hope to transform our culture into one that has no use for aggression to satisfy our basic needs.

This movement has already met with a great deal of resistance from the men’s rights movement, evangelical churches, and the Republican Party. Misinformation spread within these circles erroneously convinces people that we are conspiring to tear down the traditional American family, when in fact, we only wish to rebuild and strengthen it. We don’t hate men, nor do we wish to eject them from our families. We do however, require a better life for our sons, empowering them, so they might become respected fathers within their own families one day. It is truly our hope that men will realize how this movement is about improving the lives of all men as well as all women. We courage men to become involved in the positive masculinity groups which are popping up across the country. These groups celebrate masculinity, fatherhood and the family bond.

I feel confident that individual engagement and family harmony will lead to social peace in every sector of our society. Imagine what can be accomplished with positive collaborations in government, health, and human services. Unification campaigns like “NO MORE” can bring renewal to all aspects of societal development. Today, we fight for women; tomorrow, we will save the world!