Name It

We like to talk about the notion of better. Of doing better and being better and making better things.

We also like to talk about change. About making change and being the change.

What we forget is that both of these things are relational. Better than what. Change from what.

We are so enthralled by the notion of progress that we avoid stopping to name what we are progressing from. 

But how can we fix an unnamed problem? How can we measure progress from an unidentified beginning?

We have to know where we’re starting. We have to know what we’re working with, right now. 

If we want to forgive, we have to name what we are forgiving.

If we want to heal from something, we have to name what that something is.

If we want justice, we have to name all the ways in which the current systems are unjust. 

It sounds simple. Obvious, even. But it’s amazing the ways in which we’ll contort ourselves to avoid the truth. The ways we’ll soften our language or omit parts of the story that our discomfort has deemed unrelated. 

If we want change… we have to get clear on what we’re changing. We have to open the doors and pull everything out onto the floor before us. We have to name what we find. What we like and don’t like. What excites and what scares us. What we understand and what we don’t. And we have to be uncompromising about it. 

We need to sit with what this brings up for us and realize that this, here, is also the work.

Then, with all the parts and our relationship to them before us, we act. All the while remembering that change isn’t a beauty contest. Change isn’t content to be made or a box to be checked or a prize to be won. 

Change means having the humility to sit with what is.

Change means having the courage to name what you find.

Change means seeing things as they are, not as you hoped them to be.

And then…. then comes better.

But first, name it.


H/T to Bell Hooks’s book All About Love, Rob Bell’s podcast episode Swords and Plows and the Great Unmasking, and Barbara J. Love’s Liberatory Consciousness Framework (explained by Ericka Hines in this Reimagining Small Business Town Hall) for inspiring today’s post-walk brain dump.