“I feel sorry for people who don’t live in Detroit.” Grace Lee Boggs. The Detroit Free Press article about her passing today at the age of 100 included this summary:
A self-described revolutionary, her life’s work centered on creating a different kind of revolution, one that required not violence, but an expansion of creativity and a constant broadening of the definition of humanity.
The democracy she sometimes found fault with still stands. The structure of the city she embraced continues to fray. Racial inequality remains a potent force. The poor have stayed poor; the rich have grown richer.
But Boggs’ closest friends and students say her contributions live on in the minds of those drawn into her orbit, in the space she created within her community for conversations about change, in the capacity for thought she instilled in those who worked alongside her.
Her words and deeds leave a legacy of inspiration and accomplishment in her local community of Detroit that spread and inspired so many of us. She pointed the way to see that each step any of us takes is worthwhile. A hero whose words speak best for themselves.
Her story provides so many clues about how to live a life that brings good to the world. What it means to live that life. You can watch a full PBS film, American Revolutionary, on-line until Nov. 5 to be inspired, encouraged, informed for your own life.
Honoring her with words of hers that I often turned to for encouragement to keep going–words of many that she has left for us.
These are the times to grow our souls. Each of us is called upon to embrace the conviction that despite the powers and principalities bent on commodifying all our human relationships, we have the power within us to create the world anew.
We can begin by doing small things at the local level, like planting community gardens or looking out for our neighbors. That is how change takes place in living systems, not from above but from within, from many local actions occurring simultaneously.
We never know how our small activities will affect others through the invisible fabric of our connectedness. In this exquisitely connected world, it’s never a question of ‘critical mass.’ It’s always about critical connections.
“People are aware that they cannot continue in the same old way but are immobilized because they cannot imagine an alternative. We need a vision that recognizes that we are at one of the great turning points in human history when the survival of our planet and the restoration of our humanity require a great sea change in our ecological, economic, political, and spiritual values.”
“Things do not start with governments.
do something local. Do something real, however, small. And don’t– don’t diss the political things, but understand their limitations.
it takes a whole lot of things. It takes people doing things. It takes people talking about things. It takes dialogue. It takes changing the whole lot of ways by which we think.
I think we have to rethink the concept of “leader.” ‘Cause “leader” implies “follower.” And, so many– not so many, but I think we need to appropriate, embrace the idea that we are the leaders we’ve been looking for.
You cannot change any society unless you take responsibility for it, unless you see yourself as belonging to it and responsible for changing it.