Learning Through Imperfection

Perfection takes time no one has.

Doing advocacy can be difficult for a number of different reasons because most people are reluctant to speak to people about issues they face on a regular basis. Consequently, organizing becomes difficult because people have problems finding those who share their understanding of the built environment. Social media is no guarantee that someone is willing to collaborate because working online is easier than risking rejection, and in real life, there is not only a fear of rejection, but a very real language barrier due to the variety of lived experiences. Therefore, we have to be willing to speak other languages badly so that we can build better communities that respect the reality of everyone, not just those accepted by the dominant narrative.

Between climate change, the global pandemic, looming economic crises–which have already begun in the United Kingdom, and raging mental health issues, there is too much advocacy that needs to be done, and specialized groups are insufficient. Gone are the days that a couple of prominent speakers could work microphone magic and quell the unrest; now everything is a numbers game. While social media can help, engaging with people on a personal level is more effective because of the disconnect that so many people feel, and showing that one is vulnerable to being wrong makes more people comfortable in a society where nothing is assured anymore. If a census can be taken during the pandemic, we can all learn how to safely engage on a personal level.

Most people are forced to speak English in the United States because so many residents are unable to speak a different language, and immigrants often endure ridicule as they work to maneuver through a complex system that often demonstrates hostility. It is unacceptable that so many people born in the United States are unwilling to even attempt to communicate in a way where we lose our dominance, and we are seeing the effects of such behavior as people feel more isolated. Perfection is an impossibility, and instead of waiting until we speak another language fluently, we owe it to our future to communicate with as many people as possible–even if we say the wrong words. Since most global citizens are more functional than we are, they are more than willing to correct us.

In our efforts to become “more professional,” many people have forgotten that the primary goal of expression is to communicate, and communication is more than words. Behavior changes how many people understand phrases, and we have to practice conveying messages that people can easily understand. “Leaders” with a forest of accomplishments behind their names can be less than appealing because “leadership” is too often linked with perfection, meaning that no one will approach the “leaders” without carefully crafting what needs to be said. While we all wait to be perfect, the planet is going to burn up with everyone angry at each other. Much of this could be alleviated if more of us were willing to speak a little bad Spanish.

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