Celebrating: Going Together on Crazy Ideas
Brazilian drums thumping through the dark, tart lemon, champagne, vodka concoction, funky earrings dripping and sparkling in the candle light, swaths of silks and saris and nigerian robes swishing and ruffling across a concrete floor, and stories. Many stories shared, between friends, handed between women in partnership, whispered from grandmothers, declared by young leaders.
Two messages will stay with me from the night of the 25th Anniversary of the Global Fund for Women.
"Going alone I go fast, going together we go far."
This African proverb was quoted early in the evening and ripples out into other themes I've been thinking about…that groups give rise to more "mind" than one mind could ever give rise to alone, that tribes shelter one another and carry one another along in hard times, that more ground is covered when we encourage one another along. And that, in a very real way, our existence is vulnerable, if we are not woven into a fabric with others.
"It is a difficult thing to share crazy ideas," Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Laureate.
Leymah Gbowee's crazy idea was to start a Peace Movement in Liberia in the middle of a civil war. When she sat down with one of her first funders she said, "I need $2,000 to start a peace movement.," and he responded, "Leymah, you're crazy. I cannot give you $2,000 to do this subversive activity. I'll tell you what. I do have a job for you though."
Gbowee looked at him and said, "I did not ask for a job, I asked for $2,000 to start a peace movement."
He gave her $100, which she took. And, if you don't know the story, the rest is history. Gbowee went on to participate in one of the most important, effective peace movements in the history of humanity. Culminating in the election of Ellen Johnson, the first female president of an African Nation.
About the Global Fund for Women, Gbowee said, "They fund craziness."
Leymah Gbowee is strong, funny, unapologetic and determined. She has grit. But more than all that, it is how willing she was to submit herself to a crazy idea, to put herself in service of an outcome that was unimaginable, until she herself was willing to be the first crazy person to imagine it--this is what I love about her.
Lately, I have been becoming convinced that we shape each others minds more than we know. That the transmission that buddhists talk about, that apprenticeships, that being in person to person presence has a physical impact on who we are and who we become. If this crazy idea is true, then a little bit of Ms. Gbowee was planted in me last night, and for that, I will be forever grateful.