A vision for the IofC movement grown out of its own idea
by Alline Serpa [translated by Lyria Norminton]
The individual, the community and the movement of Initiatives of Change are reflections of the world. Up until now, there has been nothing new – we see the characteristics of humanity are also inside this movement, shown up in a variety of ways. Local teams frequently reflect the effects of local and global crises.
On the other hand, each of us and also this movement are a combination, just as humanity is, of advances in the understanding of human nature; of feelings expressed and especially those which are not expressed, of the way we show them and of reactions to what is important to us and what hurts us. The world's disputes go on inside us. People and groups, from what we understand to be territories of power, will compete for recognition and acceptance - elements that, as the ‘children’ that we still are, understand to be important values.
This duality of ‘Me + World’ (with the movement of Initiatives of Change in the middle) is stimulated by the pressure that modern life has put upon us. We have accelerated our movements, reduced quality time and made relationships superficial. We must do ‘everything’ because this is what is asked, and it is how humanity operates. We perceive there is a scene where we are ready to choose what is important. At this point in my life, my own humanity will dictate priorities in my feelings, in the way I express myself and in everything I live through - including in the context of Initiatives of Change.
There is, I believe, a cyclical relationship between humanity and IofC, between the world and us, and between us and me. All of which is nourished by the attractiveness of values, which is understood as essential truths to which each of us is linked. We keep these truths with us, in most cases unconsciously.
On a personal level, IofC's invitation is, through deep reflection, to break the bonds of what we understand to be of the world but is not necessarily required in our inner ‘world’. To accept the invitation is an exercise of extreme effort because it can mean being misunderstood and being rejected. In other words, the invitation can be uncomfortable, not only because it challenges our attitudes and ways of life, but because it will weaken some ties and relationships; and yet it will strengthen many others.
Wherever the movement reaches and on whatever scale, it will be those people who have decided to commit to the idea of personal transformation for a better world. These are the people who will be more challenged to reflect on themselves, and on themselves with other people. Any organization, structure or process with a certain responsibility, in addition to demanding time, commitment and tension, exactly for these reasons will also manifest conflicts and disputes. Sometimes those conflicts reveal the worst in us, at other times conflicts arise from a variation in ideas or priorities to make the work possible. And, without us realizing it, the ‘humanity of the world’ will be incorporating the actions of this small group.
As you can see, there is an intimate relationship between ‘the outer world’ and IofC as a movement, where the ‘Me’ (the self) must be challenged and improved. There is no way we can think about transformation on a large scale without a clear understanding of these relationships. However, I do not argue that we need to be perfect for this mission, given that the process of personal transformation within the movement is the most powerful tool we have for ourselves, as a group, as well as for ‘the world that is watching us’.
I am highlighting here one of the most important things that I find in the character of IofC's work, which I already perceived some years ago. It seems to upset us that we have conflict and disputes within the teams, and it is clear that this, in an exaggerated way, disrupts the balance and compromises the success of our outreach. However, it is precisely because of our imperfection ‘in here’, that we can demonstrate what we want to happen ‘out there’. After all, this is exactly how change in the world has happened despite there always being new challenges.
Having understood this, a deep and courageous change is needed in the spheres of the ‘Me’ (the self) and of the movement in the eyes of the world. If not, the price is that the necessary work will not happen, incurring a high risk of each of us individuals being even more of a reflection of the negativity present in the world. It is necessary to understand where we want to address the challenges of the present. It is necessary to understand the wounds exposed from historical differences humanity has invented, resulting in injustice, despair and deaths. Initiatives of Change will not solve this problem - it just seeks to facilitate the conditions of change in each person, so that we understand our role in where we can act and, together and on a growing scale, reduce the ongoing processes.
So, it's all there: ‘Me + World + IofC’ means working in an organic, systematic and continuous way. We never leave the outer world, and that future that we don't want to worry about is already underway - we are its builders. Having a common vision for our work, in the context of local situations, allows us to shape the future in a conscious and organized way. This is done by optimizing efforts and seeking effectiveness for what is intended as a result from another necessary exercise: the construction of a shared and qualified vision of a better world.
Alline Serpa lives in Petropolis, where she works as architect and professor. She met IofC in 1992, and since then has contributed in translating and managing the Portuguese section of IofC global website, as well as coordinating, with others, meetings and programs in Brazil and serving on the board of IofC-Brazil.
NOTE: Individuals of many cultures, nationalities, religions, and beliefs are actively involved with Initiatives of Change. These commentaries represent the views of the writer and not necessarily those of Initiatives of Change as a whole.