Origin Story Two: Living in Limbo

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Sitting in my neighborhood Starbucks, I realize a profound disturbance. We live a life of unconsciousness. Society has numbed and dumbed us just enough so that day-to-day life is lived just under the brink of awareness. We are taught not to question, to follow authority and tread along in the name of progress. Oh, yes, you can have your political opinions, and yes, sure you can be whoever you want to be when you grow up, and yes, yes you live in the land of democracy—let freedom ring! But meanwhile no one is actually awake. Besides, individual freedom does not exist until universal freedom is recognized. I understand now why the first few weeks after coming home I felt like I was in a daze. It was not that I was reaching for the dream-like trance of TBB. No, I was reaching for the reality and active consciousness TBB provided. Returning from TBB means living in limbo. You are alive, but you live in society’s dreamland. Most of the time, the people around you are living examples of the unconsciousness you left behind eight months ago before you died a social death, but when you see them you do not question their existence—you question your own.

This theme of consciousness versus unconsciousness is prevalent in all three pillars. On my gap year I discovered multilateral consciousness (which is really just a fancy way of saying I learned how to not only stand on the three pillars—love and community, challenging your assumptions, and looking inward—but also practice them simultaneously). What does society’s unconsciousness look like in this context? Respectively, a lack of emotional literacy, honesty, and vulnerability; a blinding faith and trust in the system born from a quasi-factory line education meant to booster ego; an unrecognized fear of depth and of introspection and a humility deficiency. There’s plenty of evidence from my past which says that I have been developing the three pillars for quite some time now. And perhaps similar evidence can be found in your past and even your present. However, for me, the difference between the past pre-TBB and the past during TBB is consciousness. And that has made all the difference. During those seven months of travel, I actively pursued love and community, constantly challenged my assumptions, and committed myself to looking inward. It was a lived reality during which I was fully awake, and my struggle to remain awake is what leads me to the type of exhaustion as if I am treading water.

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My original intent for this post was an explanation behind the pillar “Challenge Your Assumptions.” Instead, I ended up here. Before TBB, I would have forced my canoe down the intended course rather than the purposeful course. I would have listened to my head space’s “supposed to be” instead of my heart space’s “this is.” I would have followed the plan when I could have let the writing take over me. In all essence, I would have heard my ego over my soul.

I say this because I want to emphasize that society is not consistently unconscious. The moments when the soul is heard over the ego is consciousness; when art is created, observed, or heard consciousness exists; when love is recognized, that is consciousness. We all carry within us the ability to reach the brink of awareness, even beyond the TBB community.

The late poet laureate Mark Strand once wrote, “I think what happens at certain points in my poems is that language takes over, and I follow it. It just sounds right. And I trust the implication of what I’m saying, even though I’m not absolutely sure what it is that I’m saying. I’m just willing to let it be. . . Because if I were absolutely sure of whatever it was that I said in my poems . . . I don’t think the poem would be smarter than I am.”

Living in limbo comes with the responsibility of awareness and education—at least for me, because living in limbo means fighting to keep that consciousness alive, fighting to keep yourself “alive, awake, alert and enthusiastic.” Living in limbo means more than just wanting the poem to be smarter than you. . . It means letting it.

So here you have the purpose of the three pillars: for the soul to be heard above the ego.

Origin Story One: The Beginning of Humility

At sixteen, I knew I didn’t have it all figured out. (And nearing 19 I still definitely don’t have it all figured out). I wasn’t arrogant enough to believe that I had all the answers just because I started You Me We Empower. In fact, I have always been an eager learner, always ready to find out more, especially about the social justice world. But, I wasn’t humble either. I thought I had some of it down and that some of it was my theory behind empowerment. Although back then I never would have considered calling it a “theory”–in my mind it was fact not theory. I founded You Me We Empower–both the organization and the blog–under the assumption that I could empower others through both humanitarian work and my writing. If there are any fellow Thinking Beyond Borders alums out there, you’re probably shaking your head because, well, that is somewhat problematic thinking. My reasons for why this is problematic will hopefully become clear in this and future posts.

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Let me start with India Seminar Two “Does education oppress or liberate?” on my global gap year with Thinking Beyond Borders (TBB). Program Leader, social justice guru, friend, and mentor Stacey led this seminar. About thirty minutes into the discussion she dropped a metaphorical bomb on my somewhat literal “empowerment junkie” identity. Stacey explained a popular definition of the word “empower.” In short, a person cannot empower another person because this would be invoking an oppressive power dynamic. It would look like giving a hand out rather than a hand up and in reality would not last. So instead, a person can only empower oneself. The moment this clicked, the moment I realized I too agreed with this definition was a moment of deep rooted confusion. When the seminar ended, I was left with my arms flailing, screaming “This can’t be over! Someone, anyone, Stacey, please, answer my questions! I don’t know where to go from here!” Had the past two years of my life been spent perpetuating oppression? Was I hindering not helping the issue? And what about all the organizations I supported? Were their values aligned with my new ones?

I was exhilarated. I may have been at a low point personally, but I had never felt more academically challenged. The seminars that followed continued to confound me. I asked more and more questions and quickly started facilitating my own conversations beyond seminar to satisfy my overflowing love for liberation theory and Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Months later, I am still asking questions and practicing the love and humility born from this original pursuit for liberation.

Pedagogy of the Oppressed is truly at the crux of my shift. Sitting here now, I am not sure how to define what I shifted away from, but I do know what I shifted towards: wholeness, humanness, humility, understanding, love. I cannot untangle every story or theory which led me to where I am today in a single blog post. Or even in a single series of blog posts. Maybe that is what the future is for–untangling the stories we have lived and are living. Consider this the first installment of The Lioness and the Wild Wolf origin stories. I cannot promise a regular schedule, but I can promise a full-hearted process. In the near future, you can expect explanations of The Three Pillars: Love & Community, Challenging Assumptions, and Looking Inward, and of the meaning behind my practice and this blog’s tagline, Social Justice Through a Lens of Love, and also of the meaning behind the new name, The Lioness and the Wild Wolf.

Until then, I will leave you with this:

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Grieving and Grasping

I am grieving. I am grasping. Grieving the loss of community and grasping at the memories because I fear they will fade away like those of a dream. There are certain moments that rattle me so much that I can feel the connection between my head and my heart shake. It is as if through a third eye I can see my heart grow hands and reach out with the kind of yearning born only from the loss of an imagined reality. And it is then, too, that I see my head contort itself so perplexed by the lack of a group photograph at the cabin in Virginia. A simple object which to some may not be worthy of my grievance. To me, though, it would mean a simple object for which to grasp. So while my heart throws itself outward, my head curls itself inward, unable to cope with the inability to touch the dream-like state of love our TBB community crafted. And in between these two corporal beings is my throat, the broken microphone that catches every other word forcing my language to come out in stutters. Suddenly I am inarticulate and my professions of love and loss are perpetually caged. It is in this absence of a photograph that I feel an overwhelming sense of quasi-failure because some place between my head and my heart needs the captured bliss of community to remember the lived reality of TBB.

Earlier today, I stumbled upon a post entitled, “There’s a Word for That: 25 Expressions You Should Have in Your Vocabulary.” Nearly every word seemed to hit the nail on the head. I had experienced these emotions, and I praised that they had a name. At last, there was a name for so many realities I had lived on my gap year with Thinking Beyond Borders. Because, yes, I once felt sophrosyne, a deep awareness of one’s true self, and perhaps it did result in true happiness. . . but then again, “What is happiness?” And, yes, my gap year gave me erlebnisse, the experiences that we feel most deeply, and through which we truly live–“not mere experiences, but Experiences.” But the word that is still caught in my throat, the word which my broken microphone still stammers on is hiraeth. “A homesickness for a home to which you cannot return. The nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for the lost places of the past.” Mmm. Yes, I’d say that sounds about right. I had a thought last week. It was addressed to my TBB family: I have been homesick for the place I created in all of you.

For seven months, I lived out of a 65L backpack. I became a vagabond. I did not have a “current address,” and truth be told I did not mind it much. The constant state of travel, at least in hindsight, did not unravel me. I recall one seminar in South Africa when our check-in (a round of responses to a prompt for the purpose of welcoming, recognizing, and honoring the emotional spaces of our peers and leaders) was something along the lines of, “Describe your heart’s bedroom.” I imagined my heart’s bedroom to be fluid. It changed frequently, rotating between all twelve of my previous and current bedrooms. As I opened my mouth to answer, my voice shook and before I could complete my thought I collapsed into tears. It was not the first time I had cried during a check-in–far from it, actually–but this time felt different. I did not understand these tears. My heart space, though, was calling out to me, forcing me to pay attention to the inner cavities and crevasses of my soul. Maybe I felt gratitude. Imagining all of my bedrooms, half of which I met during TBB, I feel the embrace of thankfulness.

But here in this Georgetown, South Carolina bedroom the tears I cry are not those of gratitude. I am sure that latter emotion mixes into the equation, but mostly my saline is made from grief, confusion, and hiraeth. In my darkest, most acute moments I realize that the place we were can never again be the place we are. And I want to be okay with that, but I am not.

Two weeks ago I said goodbye to my TBB family in Washington, D.C. Some nights during my nightmares I relive the moment I pulled out of my last hug, waved my last goodbye, and walked away. It took everything I had to not turn around for one last look because I knew that last look might break me.

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Fourteen days at home and countless more to come. Days here are not tragically painful. I am not constantly in tears. But I am constantly dazed, it feels. Here, I do not know how to be the person I’ve become. One of the beauties of TBB was its rawness. I shed my outer layer and was inextricably myself. I was the closest to wholeness I have ever come and every day, every experience, every person made me more human. This is the magic of social justice through a lens of love. I lost myself in TBB, and I would give anything to grasp ahold of my community and lose myself in their love all over again.

The Traveling Blog

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Hello, all!

It’s official: one week until I depart! I have to admit, the butterflies are starting and trepidation kicking in. I’m realizing just how much I will miss my family, but I suppose this is just how life goes. 

Regardless of the twinges of sadness and fear, I am thrilled. The reality of my adventure increases with every check off my to-do list. I even started packing today! 

If you’re interested in keeping up with my adventures, you can go to: http://mattieleila.wordpress.com. I decided it would be best to make a specific TBB blog so the core values and focus of YMWE doesn’t go askew. I promise to update my new blog as much as possible, but I’m afraid internet access in Ecuador and Thailand will be minimal. If you’re interested in subscribing to my blog so you get automatic updates, please let me know! 

With seven months of adventure ahead, here’s to living without regrets and being bold and honest,

Mattie Leila

Let’s End Poverty [?]

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I have not posted in a little while, but I can assure you I have been journaling. My red Moleskine has a sizable chunk scribbled in, with mindful thoughts interspersed between the TBB journal questions. I am on my fourth TBB read now; it is called The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities of Our Time by Jeffrey Sachs. Since Ishmael I have read John Perkins’s Confessions of an Economic Hit Man and Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. I began the latter book in February 2013, nearly 18 months ago. I had approximately 75 pages to go when I picked it back up for TBB. It is a favorite of mine, filled with shocking anecdotes of female oppression. As for Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, I devoured the book. Half the book is highlighted and annotated. I felt like I had a VIP behind-the-scenes look at my AP US History class. I highly recommend it if you find history, politics or economics the slightest bit intriguing.

With all that said, I have written a journal entry I thought would be of value or intrigue to share. We only need to read certain chapters of Sachs’s book, but this one is from Chapter One.


What is poverty?

     My heart grows heavy when I pass the many poor, rural areas across my state, South Carolina. But my head grows guilty, too, as I subconsciously lock my doors and grip my wheel a little tighter. I wonder if this assumption is a by-product of growing up in the South or simply a by-product of growing up American/human.

     I am a lower middle-class white American. I know some of the struggles of being under financial burden, if only because of my expensive college and travel dreams. But then I wonder if those who live in poverty–even the “relative” poverty Sachs speaks about–I wonder if they even entertain such dreams. I wonder if they know they could still obtain those dreams. And once again my heart grows heavy and my head grows guilty.

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     So what is poverty? When I google it, the responses include: “The state of being extremely poor,” and “the state of being inferior in quality or insufficient in amount.” Let us accept the former, not the latter. Jeffrey Sachs places poverty into three categories: relative, moderate, and extreme. All that is good and fine. Yes, they are the technical definitions of poverty. Yes, when the question is asked, that is indeed the answer. But, I still don’t truly understand poverty. I have not lived it, so I cannot truly know it.

     Reading this book, I am shaken awake by questions. Does this not go against everything Ishmael taught? Yes, I wish we could end the suffering of a billion people, but for a least some of them, wouldn’t we be imposing our culture upon them? Technology has done wonders for the developed world, but do the so-called “under-developed” and “developing” worlds want all that “progress” has brought? Are they happy as “Leavers,” or do they wish to be “Takers?” In the end, who are we to tell others how to live? People say that money doesn’t create happiness. In fact, one study shows that if a person wins the lottery, the following year they will be approximately just as happy as they were before their win. So should our aim be “end poverty,” or should it be “end unnecessary death?” Or even yet, “provide the option and availability of health.”

     Let us lead them to the watering hole, but let us not force them to drink. 

     Like so many of my other journal entries, I am left with more questions than I have answers. I am currently in chapter two of my book, but suddenly my thoughts on how we attack the poverty situation are jumbled. Perhaps I will find some answers with TBB. Or perhaps I’ll simply find more questions.

Guess which country does the most good for the planet?

Mattie Leila:

This is an interesting look at the world and the countries within it. “Countries perform better and better but the world and planet and humanity in general are getting worse and worse.” Hmmm. . . Food for thought!

Originally posted on ideas.ted.com:

The Good Country Index measures how much each of 125 countries contributes to the planet. Announced at the TEDSalon in Berlin, the Index features some unexpected winners — and even more surprising losers. (Sorry, USA.)

gci_index The top ten countries in the Good Country Index. (Click to view at larger size.)

Irish people, rejoice! It turns out, your green land is the “goodest” country in the world. That’s right. The “goodest.” At least, that’s according to Simon Anholt, who’s spent the past two years compiling an index to determine which of 125 countries contributes the most to the common, global good.

“I wanted to know why people admire Country A and not Country B,” Anholt said in a phone interview before he unveiled the full Index at the TEDSalon in Berlin on Monday, June 23. “To cut a long story short, I discovered the thing people most admired is the perception that a…

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The Question Game

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For someone who wants to be an international journalist, I am quite terrible at the whole “questions” game. And by “‘questions’ game” I mean simply thinking up questions. It’s not for a lack of curiosity–far from it. In reality, I am just so curious about everything that has to do with anything that I am completely, wholly unaware of where to start. Questions don’t really come too easily for me. Instead, I prefer to do the digging myself, figuring out what I need to know piece by piece. Which I am aware is not how to do get the job done. Other times, in class discussions let’s say, I generally answer myself immediately after posing the question. In AP English, when I occasionally articulated a question or shared a confusion of mine, I would continue rattling on until I eventually came to the answer all by my lonesome, generally ending in a “yeah, so. . . I guess that’s it.” (Shout out to all my AP English Lit classmates who can–and have–imitated my exact protocol when speaking in class).

Alas, I will one day need to overcome my controlling personality and learn how to deal with questions. Perhaps this journal entry is my first step in the process.


What are your most pressing questions about development?

      I feel like I know so little about development. Yes, I’ve read Ishmael, and yes, I’ve read some articles, but really what is development? I find myself asking that question whenever I try to starts this journal entry.

     I’ve read plenty of TBB blogs and even watched parts of last years’ graduation speeches, so I have a basic understanding of the question. I know that it is the type of question which leads to more questions than it does answers.

     I’ve been stewing on this journal entry for quite some time, never really knowing where to start. Because I felt I know so little about development, I wasn’t sure how I could write this entry. And yet, here I am.

     Once again, I have Adam Braun, my personal hero, to thank. Recently–just two days ago, actually–he shared his new TED Talk (YAY! Double the magic!), entitled “What the U.S. education system can learn from the developing world.” In the talk, Adam touches on a question I heard relentlessly while my organization was fundraising for Pencils of Promise: What about educating our kids here? Why should I help kids half way across the world? And, as Adam explains, it al comes from this underlying belief that the developing world’s education system needs to take pointers from the U.S. education system. And yet, Adam blows this idea out of the water as he introduces three key concepts about the developing world’s system, which perhaps the U.S. should inherit.

     How does this have anything to do with the journal question? Glad you asked. From what I’ve read of TBB, I’ll be learning about development extensively, and it seems as if many TBB students come back questioning the classifications themselves. You know, first world versus third world. Ishmael touches on this a bit, too. The Takers versus the Leavers, as the book calls it. The developed world versus the developing world. So with all this in mind, I’ve come up with a handful of my “most pressing questions about development” which I hope to be able to answer during my TBB gap year.

    1. What is development?
    2. What qualifies first versus third world?
    3. Can we/should we do without these labels? And how do these labels effect the specific cultures?
    4. What are the social differences and similarities between developed and developing worlds? What does Mother Culture tell each society?*

*This last question is discussed in Ishmael, but I hope to gain further insight on the topic.

 

The Only Thing That’s Left To Do is Live

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Good morning, world!

I piddled around all of yesterday, putting off this journal question with every task.

Well, I should do the laundry first, and then I’ll start. 

The dog needs to go out, and then I have to run some errands. But after that. . . maybe?

I’ll do it before work. Yeah, definitely before work.

Well, guess I’m doing it after work, then. . .

And so it goes.

I suppose this one was so difficult because I had so much to say and no real understanding of where to start, where to finish, any of it. But, I finally put my nose to the grindstone, curled up with a nice cup of tea, and unjumbled all my thoughts into one (semi)coherent journal entry. Enjoy!


 

What do you expect from your experience with Thinking Beyond Borders (TBB)?

     I’m a dreamer, and as such, I easily create day dreams of the future, quilted in high expectations. But I’m also a planner, and I love getting all the info, so you can trust me when I say I’ve spent 20+ hours reading TBB student blogs and clicking through Facebook photos from the recent graduates. With such extensive creeping–or researching, whichever you prefer–it’s safe to say that my expectations are concretely based.

     What are they, you ask? To be honest, they overwhelm me. Everything overwhelms me these days. But in the best way possible. The future, the fall. It was all so uncertain for so long that to have a definite brings tears to my eyes. I remember the moment I first decided TBB was what I wanted. . .

     It was late August, right before I began my senior year. The evening sun had set, and the sweet and salty Pawleys air saturated the porch. I was with my best friend Caroline, rocking back and forth on her hammock. I’d discovered TBB not too soon before that, and I was telling her about the program when I had what Pencils of Promise founder Adam Braun calls a “lightning moment.” I knew in my heart and soul that TBB was just what I needed. Perhaps that is when my first expectations took place. Now, ten months later, I am researching backpacks and water bottles. My lightening moment roars thunderous sounds, ringing out that my dream is becoming a reality.

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     As I think up all my expectations, I feel certain that they will not be met. They will be exceeded. Because I expect to feel wholly uncomfortable yet tragically safe with the knowledge that I am growing and breaking and growing again. And I expect to miss my family and friends, but I also expect to create lifelong friendships I truly cannot yet fathom. I expect my mind to be stretched farther than I think it can reach. I expect my mornings to be early and my days filled with teaching and learning and questioning. I expect to be saddened by the state of the world and perplexed by what I am supposed to do about it. I expect to come face to face with scary, insane moments and laugh in the face of fear as I leap forward into the arms of adventure. I expect to be happier than I have ever been before because I expect to embark on the adventure of a lifetime. And I expect that the latter is not an exaggeration because I know I will come back a different, changed person. I expect the transition from there to back here will be tougher than I expect. But above all, I expect that while I may write this and think this, reality will outshine my dreams, and my expectations will become soulless ideas, far beyond the capability to understand all that lies ahead.

     There’s a Frank Turner song called “I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous.” It’s a favorite of mine, and there’s one part that goes:

Life is about love, last minutes, and lost evenings / About fire in our bellies and furtive little feelings / And the aching amplitudes that set our needles all a-flickering / And help us with remembering that the only thing that’s left to do is live.

     Well, I have a fire in my belly, and I am ready to wash away all expectations and truly live in the moment. TBB, here I come!

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Must Have An Earnest Desire to Save the World

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Hello, all!

With just 85 days until I embark on my seven month long journey with Thinking Beyond Borders, I have begun my summer reading assignments. We have a handful of books to read pre-departure, the first being Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. It is a fascinating read, one consumed with thought provoking ideas. Throughout the novel, I yearned to drag my (former) fellow classmates from their places of comfort, drive over to our (former) AP English Lit class, and “circle up” to discuss these complex issues. Of course, I will be able to hold plenty of discussions with (new!) classmates come September, so I suppose I’ll have to hold my questions and theories and intrigues until then.

For those of you who don’t know (which is probably the majority of you) Ishmael is about a man’s efforts in becoming a proactive agent of change in the world. He answers an ad in the paper, “Teacher seeks pupil. Must have an earnest desire to save the world. Apply in person.” Upon answering the ad, he discovers his teacher is a gorilla named Ishmael. Ishmael teaches him–and the reader–about how “Mother Culture” has taught us to believe certain ideas about “how things came to be this way.” 

Part of our summer assignment requires us to answer some journal questions. For Ishmael, these questions include:

  1. What are your assumptions about yourself as an “agent of change” in the world?
  2. What do you expect from your experience with TBB?
  3. What are your most pressing questions about development?

Tonight, I answered the first question. As I opened up my new, pristine, passionately red Moleskine, I decided it needed a bit of a wanderluster’s touch, so I inscribed the phrase, “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders,” into the first page. Here’s to seven months of life thinking beyond borders.

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Now, if you care to read, here is my first journal entry. I hope you enjoy. I certainly enjoyed writing it. There is something incredibly raw about journaling. You discover so much more about yourself journaling than you typing. I’m looking forward to filling up journal after journal and sharing as much of them with you as possible.


What are your assumptions about yourself as an “agent of change” in the world?

     When I look at myself as an “agent of change,” I suppose I make all kinds of assumptions, but at the moment I’m not sure I would classify them as “assumptions.” For me, right now, they are opinions, facts, feelings, ideas–just not assumptions. Because to have an assumption is to believe something that is most likely incorrect. But perhaps that’s my own assumption about the word’s connotation.

     Truthfully, when I first discovered the term “agent of change” I had an a-ha! moment because it’s just how I perceive myself–or at least the best version of myself–the version I hope to one day become. Over the past eighteen months, my life has been devoted to human rights advocacy. My thoughts are constant narrations of articles, exposes, editorials that I am perpetually drafting, writing, editing in my head. So, you know, those thoughts add up, and I’ve formed some serious opinions. . .er, assumptions (it’s a hard pill to swallow) about my role in the world as an agent of change.

     When I first decided I wanted to become an international journalist, it was a decision made with my gut and my heart–certainly not my head. (I personally believe that is how all important decisions should be made. . . Well, most. . . some). So, upon reflection, I began asking myself if I believed I could make a serious impact on the world by simply writing about it. My gut growled at me, “Yes, of course!” and my head did, too. But for a while, my brain had no explanation for its answer. That is, until one day in my Anatomy & Physiology class.

      We were learning about the reproduction system–an awkward, hysterical, curious, informative unit for any high school student. My class was incredibly. . . inquisitive about the topic of sex (go figure). Personally, I believed several questions to be basic knowledge for any 16 to 18 year old female–most questions raised were directed toward female anatomy and reproduction. The questions ranged from “What is the clitoris?” to other, specific questions about sex which I won’t delve into right now. It amazed me just how many girls were unaware of this vital information. And then it dawned on me: I had researched all this information on my own. I was not told any of this sexual knowledge; I was just curious, so I Googled. This realization led me to another realization: girls are ashamed and shamed when it comes to sex, yet boys are not. And this led me further and further into my questioning. How does this have anything to do with my being an agent of change, you ask? Well, it was that day that I realized that the root of my empowerment comes from my research, which is all thanks to journalists and writer-activists. The people I want to be.

     I love writing, and I love public speaking. Both of which, I realize now, are my main modes for sharing my ideas, my opinions, my assumptions. They are my way of educating the masses.

     My love of learning has brought me to unique and fascinating places, the best of which is Thinking Beyond Borders. Upon graduating high school just last week, I understand that I love learning because it is a universal vehicle for everywhere and anywhere I want my life to take me. So with all this said, I suppose my main assumption about myself as an “agent of change” is that my role is learner, writer, educator.

Not All Men: A Brief History of Every Dude’s Favorite Argument

Mattie Leila:

I believe we are entering a new fourth wave of feminism, and in many ways, this article captures its essence: inclusion.

Originally posted on TIME:

On April 10, artist Matt Lubchansky updated his popular webcomic series, Please Listen To Me, with a new comic called “Save Me.” It features a presumably mild-mannered fellow in a polo shirt who spots the “Man Signal” and barrels into a phone booth to emerge as a fedora-masked Not-All-Man, “defender of the defended” and “voice for the voiceful.” He catches the whiff of misandry in the air — a pink-haired woman in the middle of saying “I’m just sick of how men…” — and smashes through a plate-glass window to play devil’s advocate.

Matt Lubchansky (listen-tome.com)

It’s a sharp, damning satire of a familiar kind of bad-faith argument, the one where a male interlocutor redirects a discussion about sexism, misogyny, rape culture, or women’s rights to instead be about how none of that is his fault. And it struck a nerve.

The comic was retweeted and reblogged tens of thousands…

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