This weekend we celebrate the 4th of July.
Across the USA, Independence Day Celebrations are filled with flags, parades, families and barbecues. However the ideals behind our Independence are rooted in something very different. It is a day that celebrates radical ideas, revolution and organizing one’s community to stand up against the status quo to fight for justice and equality.
Did you know that when the initial battles in the Revolutionary War broke out in April 1775, few colonists desired complete independence from Great Britain, and those who did were considered radical?
Think about this. One year before Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence, the desire for complete independence from the “mother country” was a radical idea. Those who embraced it were radicals, on the margins, living on the edge. Sound familiar? How can this be applied to today's United States of America?
These radicals were the people that are the heart of our nation and that continue to lead patriotic movements fighting for the freedom of all people residing on our land. People that throughout history lead the American Revolution, The Abolitionist Movement, The Women’s Rights Movement and the Civil Rights Movement.
Think of the progress that has taken place thanks to the patriotic leaders of these movements.
Who does our current society label as radicals? Who are our current founding mothers and fathers -- shaping and radically re-imagining what a free and liberated United States of America looks like?
They are people that gather at churches, schools, neighborhood homes and community centers, radically imagining ways that we as Americans could all live safer, happier and more peaceful lives.
It starts with a few people who step forward with a radical idea. It may be an idea that is so different from mainstream thinking that others mock it or laugh at it. People certainly did back in 1775 as the initial conflict ignited. Over time, however, things evolve. More people buy in. Eventually, it doesn’t feel quite so radical. (Growing Leaders, Elmore)
In the days and weeks following our Independence Day Celebrations, as the fireworks are cleaned up and we go back to our everyday lives, don’t forget we still need positive change.
Maybe you’re the person who needs to step up.
Maybe in 10 years the idea of ending the era of policing won't seem radical, but will seem like our obvious evolution towards a more peaceful humanity. Imagine a world where same sex couples marrying was radical, where interracial marriages was revolutionary or where women as equal humans was thought to be unrealistic.
Where can your imagination take you? What ways you can you be the ultimate patriot and radically imagine a better, more just world for all the humans on this planet?
What marvelous and radical ideas do you have today? Have you collected a small group of people who buy into it like you do? Have you written anything that explains why the idea is an improvement? Have you given people enough time to embrace it?
That’s usually how change takes place.
How can YOU get involved? SIMPLE!
Step#1: Be listening and looking for little things you can do to support radical ideals locally: go to a beach cleanup and ask the organizers how you can get more involved, attend a city hall meeting & research an issue being discussed or go on nextdoor.com to see what kind of local organizing is happening. Here are some organizations radicalizing the way we think: Algalita, Orange County Interfaith Council, Resiliance OC, OC Human Relations, OC United, OC Coastkeeper, LGBT Center OC.
Step #2: Write your radical ideas down on paper and schedule community events into your calendar. Then share those ideas with a friend and invite them to an event.
Step #3: Listen to the radical ideas of others and before brushing them off as unrealistic or too idealistic, really think about how that idea may make your community a better place. Maybe the radical idea just needs more support.
To learn more about how students can get involved in social innovation projects, internships, volunteer opportunities or develop their leadership skills, contact Mentor Me Learning, or go to their website programs page.