July 10, 2024

Collective Action

To soar toward what’s possible, you must leave behind what’s comfortable.
– Cicely Tyson, American actor, icon

There is a new pop culture phrase in the U.S. called main character energy. It describes someone as confident and willing to take up space as a priority in their lives. How can we harness “main character energy” for collective action?

There is a classic construct in creative writing created by Joseph Campbell, called the hero’s journey. It is a model for storytelling that follows the progression of an individual from their origin story and into the realm of heroes.

Our modern model of a hero is often individualistic. A single person with superhuman strength, leading the way for change. This version of courage places the responsibility of systemic issues such as corruption, on the shoulders of one individual. Even when a “hero” joins forces with others it is usually temporary and at times contentious.

In reality, the hero’s journey is never realized in isolation. Think of the iconic Captain Planet, who was made up of several individuals combining their unique qualities to form a new kind of hero.

We will need a collective hero in order to rise above the challenges we face as a society and as a field. Still, the individual work we do matters greatly for community progress. Each of us brings something unique that can fuel a larger effort or movement.

The stories of our lives are our gift to the world. While we are the main characters of our lives, we are also supporting characters in the stories of the children, peers, and communities we give our care. Both individual and collective courage can and should coexist to create harmony between self-preservation and community care.

Your story matters. You can uplift, encourage, and ignite the fire in others when you share experiences from your work and life. When we encounter a challenging work situation, confront our limited thinking, or succeed in a goal that we once thought impossible, we reveal vital personal values, gather evidence to support our self-confidence and learn valuable lessons. These jewels can light the way for others to walk a similar path and reach higher than they thought possible.

We look forward to sharing your story through Exchange. Visit our Write for Exchange page to learn more about contributing.

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Childcare Education Institute