By Christine Murray, See the Triumph Co-Founder
“And now let us believe in a long year that is given to us, new, untouched, full of things that have never been, full of work that has never been done, full of tasks, claims, and demands; and let us see that we learn to take it without letting fall too much of what it has to bestow upon those who demand of it necessary, serious and great things.”
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
I love the start of a new year. Every year, I spend a good bit of time thinking of one or more meaningful resolutions to focus on throughout the coming year. Although I’m like many people and some of my resolutions don’t make it too far into the year, I do try to keep a focus throughout the year and truly work on the changes I hope to make in my life. The start of each new year feels like a fresh start--an opportunity to begin anew and make changes in my life that will keep me continually in the process of transforming my life for the better.
This month at See the Triumph, we’re also focusing on fresh starts, transformation, and new approaches to challenges we face. We’re thinking “big picture” here--the question on our minds is: What are the changes we really need to make in our society to transform the pervasive epidemic of violence in our society?
Of course, we know that ending violence once and for all is a huge undertaking that will take generations to complete, if ever. The intergenerational patterns of violence and abuse, the social forces that promote violence as normative, and the deeply entrenched issues like poverty contribute to the challenges that we face in ending violence, and so we must undertake the mission of ending violence a day at time and celebrate the small steps we make along the way.
This month, though, we want to highlight and celebrate initiatives that truly have the potential to transform the ways that we as a society prevent, respond to, and ultimately work toward ending domestic violence and other forms of abuse.
Like the changes we make in our personal lives when we make New Year’s Resolutions, these transformative approaches build upon our past experiences and lessons we’ve learned over time. Sometimes, transformative approaches represent radically new ideas, and other times they represent smaller-scale shifts that become tipping points that set off ripple effects of broader changes. Momentum is key. Transformative approaches are those that gain strength as they build over time and become ingrained in the ways we do things.
Although it can seem like progress toward ending violence happens slowly, consider how large-scale changes can happen in a relatively short period of time in the grand scheme of things. Consider, for example, the rapid spread of shelters for victims of domestic violence. Today, shelters are found in many communities across the country, and they have become one of the main resources that are used to support survivors as they leave abusive relationships. However, formal shelters didn’t really begin to exist until as recently as the 1960s and 1970s (see the following web-sites for more information: http://www.thebusinessofme.com/a-brief-early-history-of-womens-shelters-and-the-movement-against-domestic-violence/; http://www.icadvinc.org/what-is-domestic-violence/history-of-battered-womens-movement/; and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_shelter). What was only about 50 years ago a fledgling movement to build shelters has grown to a national network of shelters and domestic violence agencies that are supported by federal funding and community supporters across the country.
What are the efforts happening today that we will look back upon 50 years from now and realize the transformative impacts they have had, but that began now as new and innovative ideas? We don’t have a crystal ball, of course, so time will provide the answers to this question. But, we can look to new and innovative ideas that are growing and gaining momentum now for hints to what transformations may be in store in the decades to come.
When we make New Year’s Resolutions, we’re often advised to make small, attainable goals. But it’s also important to dream big and imagine the possibilities that are in store for our lives. We hope you’ll join us in dreaming big this month as we look to the inspiration and transformations that are possible in creating positive changes at the societal level with the end goal in mind: ending violence once and for all and ensuring that all people have the opportunity to live in safe, healthy relationships, families, and communities.