Recently a fellow traveler said to me: “I have no heroes. I have no gurus. I don’t look up to anyone. But I have many people I look across at and sit in circle with to create a better world.” This really resonated with me.
In today’s world, where so many issues call us to a higher standard of personal responsibility and civic engagement, and in a time when communications tools make it possible for us to reach so many with our ideas and contributions, should we still be (as Bonnie Tyler crooned in the ‘80s) “holding out for a hero”?
I say no, and instead, I think we need to all be our own heroes and she-ros, pronto. I don’t mean to kick Wonder Woman to the curb, I just crave the future that I’m certain will unfold when we all embody our true nature, and are fully self expressed, complete with the recognition of a unique superhero identity and extra-ordinary powers all our own.
Deepak Chopra and his son, Gotham, break it down in their fabulous book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Superheroes, which I highly recommend for inspiration as we contemplate this emerging future.
In this future, we don’t give away our power or surrender our rightful place in the ushering in of the sacred unfoldment. We may find inspiration in the work of others, but it moves us to action, not to complacency. In this future, we all embody equal parts equanimity and radical self-liberation. No one relegates her authority or sacred individual role to anyone else, be it a boss, a celebrity, an elder, an elected leader, a spiritual teacher, a community organizer, someone with more experience or more money, etc.
I believe this is the future of activism and of our culture as a whole. And I believe this future is near. So I’ve been wondering: What holds us back? What healing needs to occur so that we can move past the blockages that keep us from being fully self-expressed, from claiming our power and ushering in this post-hero, post-guru, post-celebrity era of super-empowerment and social justice?
Rha Goddess, artist, activist, business/life coach and the creative force behind a new social entrepreneur’s academy called Move the Crowd (complete with the tag line Stay True. Get Paid. Do Good), spoke of it this way on a recent call:
“I believe that we are moving out of the Age of the Celebrity, and into the Age of the Citizen. And what I mean when I say that is I think that this next wave of leadership is going to be less about following icons and much more about facilitating ways for people to make their own brand of contribution.
…And so within this new paradigm of the citizen, it is really by the people, for the people. And it is less about usurping our right to think critically or feeling like unless we adopt somebody else’s ideas that we don’t have credibility. I think we are going to be honoring our own voices more and our own wisdom more, inherent wisdom, and its really going to be about people who are willing to ignite and tap that inside of us and encourage us to find our own power and our own voice and our own wisdom.”
Indeed that is the stuff I want to ignite! I feel truly blessed to have spent years offering spokesperson training and public speaking coaching to activists. There is such delight in supporting someone as they find their power as a voice for social justice, peace, ecological balance.
Until now my methodology involved working with the grittiest of the grassroots, those communities most disproportionately impacted by ecological destruction and social injustice and supporting those with stories to tell as they found a path to leadership. The thought was to broaden the spotlight, or redirect it so those who had not been seen could be seen and their voices heard.
We all deserve our moment in lights, and this is indeed important work. But rather than relying solely on a strategy of shifting the spotlight, I’m wondering now what it would look like to ditch the spotlight, bring up the house lights, turn the chairs in a circle and bring the full force of all of us to bear in creating a better world.
What does this actually look like? What is needed to best hold space while folks tap their own profound self-liberation and literally everyone steps up? I don’t know yet, but this is the edge at which I want to innovate, where my work is. And consider this a call to (loving) arms for other social entrepreneurs to join me in this innovation. Where are you, my spiritual superhero ‘League of Justice’?
Note: Many thanks to Leah Shelleda, Henia Belalia and Rha Goddess for helping to synthesize a conversation rattling around in my head for more than a decade.