I've been working with James on Agents of Change in South Africa, and he's been guiding and helping (mentoring our work) over here. About a week ago, I was doing some reflection on AoC and activism, and what I have learned from social sculpture. The work with Agents of Change has had massive impacts for me, and these have happened in a very positive way.
I feel very inspired by social sculpture, because it's different to other forms of activism, and it has helped me a lot. I'd learned a lot about social injustice and privilege, but I've realized how talk of inclusion or multi-culturalism sometimes relates to capitalism and the capitalist system. I started to feel uncertain about this concept a year a go, but I wasn't sure how to explain this fully. I know know that it focuses on how to include people within a system which (our AoC discussions believe) are not helpful to people or to the world.
Without being able to untangle the need for a deeper respect for humanity and the environment from capitalism, the system perpetuates itself. And it restricts the ability of people to respond in creative ways, because it imposes the belief that Western logic, prestige and status are the values to fight for. Through Agents of Change (which interconnects with my growing interest and questioning around indigenous spirituality and traditional healers), I've learned that there are many ways of being within the world, and so many ways of sharing.
Agents of Change has been incredible because it has created a platform without hierarchy. All people are valued as a part of our process, and everybody is considered to have the ability to share. AoC acknowledges systemic and environmental injustice, but puts the voices of the participants into the centre on an entirely equal footing. It introduces a sense of community where different people with different perspectives can speak and share. And the other participants (including me) get to see how there are different ways of being within the world without anybody being seen as right/wrong/more or less powerful.
I've been very interested in traditional healing as a way of re-connecting with body and spirit, and a means of seeing the world of animals, earth, body and air combined with community and prayer (the sweat lodge introduces all of these things), and I enjoyed the way that healers bring a sense of possibility and a focus on 'now' combined with a sense of community. But as James and I have recently been sharing, this happens with Agents of Change too. There is a beautiful awareness that reality is in transition, as a part of a process, and that by using imagination, we can shift and create new contributions to the world.
It's refreshing to be a part of a system which as acknowledges the need for transformation and then gives equal space for freedom and choice of how to work towards a better future.