Omega Point taught me this Native tradition and I keep coming back to it over and over again, especially in times when it feels we are misunderstanding each other or talking past each other as if we are on separate wave lengths (and as it turns out, we are).
So what does the gift of our thinking have to do with social media technology in prevention? Great question. I'll toss in the gift of my thinking -- and I hope you'll share yours too.
The flaw of "the message" approach: It seems to me that for some time now people in prevention have been focused on developing "the message" and then broadcasting it through every mechanism feasible with the funding available. We've even been encouraged by our agencies to use a single voice and to stay on message. While this may be logical, from my perspective, it is woefully incomplete.
One Voice? I often hear people say, "we've got to get everyone speaking with one voice". Hmmm, everyone singing the same note, sustained over time to accomplish the goals of prevention? Can you really imagine being honed in on one note, continuously humming it. Can you think of anything harder to do when singing than holding one note for a sustained time? Or anything more boring listening to a single continuous sound? My experience is that a single sustained note fades into white noise after awhile. Seems to me that doing this denies the potential of our complexity and diversity. It's like
saying there's only one way to do prevention when we know that simply
isn't true - there are many circles and many paths.
I felt then as I do now that what prevention really needs is an ongoing conversation contributing to learning into and developing a shared vision of a shared future. Many voices are better like adding harmony to melody, finding our part and contributing to the greater song .. more like singing from the same sheet music and of course we need more than one song. To those who think this can't be done, watch Eric Whitacre bring this amazing idea to life.
The power of people and technology to do good is stunning.
Its been 7 years (although it seems like yesterday) since I jumped into social media communications technologies for prevention, grabbing onto the notion that if we could all widely share the gifts of our thinking through social media that from this action would emerge a sense of a shared future. I didn't have much language for it then but that seems to be coming along through the experience. Social media can provide not only a mechanism but serve as a pathway, a real chance to actually create significant change born in the hearts and minds of people -- because we know that people support what they help create and that skilled, knowledgeable local people create lasting change. I still hold all these notions - more now than ever before in large part because of the potential of social media.
What I'm learning is that it takes courage to give voice to our thoughts on social media knowing there are others who will disagree with us in a very open public forum (and sometimes not so nicely but that's another story). Social media provides possibilities for finding our way together. What if we were to listen to the gifts of our collective thinking -- to capture our thinking in databases -- to examine the data -- what would we learn? Might we have a thought we've not thought before or see a pathway that has been hidden or find new partners, supporters and connections?
What does sharing the gift of our thinking make possible?
When have you experienced the authentic gift of someone else's thinking?
How about tossing in the gift of your thinking?