I found these excerpts of “Organizing for Social Change” especially comforting, reassuring, and inspiring. The overall message I got from the reading is that working towards positive social change can and should not be easy. Struggle is necessary. In the various organizations that I am either currently involved in or have previously been involved in, nothing that we accomplished was sans struggle. I have experienced all four dialectic tensions discussed in this reading, but am reassured that each of those tensions can work together to promote social change and should not necessarily be viewed as limiting or problematic. It is all about finding a balance between these tensions and a process of trial and error to see how they can work together harmoniously rather than dichotomously. Another important thing to note is that every fight for social change is different; there is not a perfect “one size fits all” formula for balance between stability and change.
There was one excerpt from these readings that particularly resonated with me. It was the story in Box 1.4: An Adhesive that Does not Stick, which was a story proving that, from the first sentence of the box, “dialectical tensions…can be welcomed as opportunities.” The story behind Dr. Spencer Silver’s failure to invent an adhesive with high stickiness and the creation instead of the Post-It note is super inspiring to me. We should not be frustrated by all the struggles and setbacks when promoting social change, but instead we should seek new opportunities from them. This goes along with what we talked about in our articulation performance reflections; maybe something did not go as planned in our performance but it actually worked to our benefit?
The second part of this “Organizing for Social Change” reading discussed two concepts which bring me to my multimedia clip for this blog post: those of dignity and stigma. I was fortunate enough to see the Mau a Malawi: Stories of AIDS world premiere on October 14 in Memorial Hall. The whole purpose of the performance was to share the stories of Malawians affected by AIDS, not from an outsider’s point of view, but from the individuals themselves. The producers of the performance, Andrew Finn Magill and Peter Mawanga, actively engaged with these people and listened to their powerful narratives, providing them with self-worth and dignity. Another part of the reading discusses the stigma often attached with these social issues that can hinder social change. That is another concept the Mau a Malawi: Stories of AIDS was able to address. By creating safe places for these individuals to speak with them, they were able to protect them and openly discuss their stories without fear of repercussions from their society. They are also working hard to remove the AIDS stigma through music. Here’s some footage from the performance (credit to Jon Haas): http://storiesofaids.com/