Wednesday, March 05, 2008
The following is the first of a series of essays which discuss the 5 founding principles of Mothers Acting Up, a national non-profit organization which exists to inspire and mobilize mothers to advocate on behalf of the world’s children.
From all over the country, people are taking the MAU Pledge to bring the security of the world’s children into the forefront of all discussions – from conversations with family and friends, to our wider communities and certainly with candidates and elected officials.
How to do this effectively? To answer that, let’s begin at the very beginning, with the first of the 5 MAU Principles:
Be exuberant: Since we're ACTING UP for the rest of our lives, our activism has to be joyful. No one wants to rally around anger; studies show that negative advertising causes women to politically disengage. This movement is about the JOY of standing up for what you believe & publicly declaring your priorities. Let's gather in the streets, not with bullhorns, but singing.
With its roots in the lavish abundance of growing and being fruitful, the quality of exuberance smacks with the juicy goodness of mother nurture, Mother Nature and Mothers Acting Up.
As of this writing, we at MAU Central are nodding our heads in collective understanding as to precisely why one presidential nomination candidate’s message of hope and of change has engaged, inspired and ignited citizens across lines of gender, race, class and socioeconomics. While we do not organizationally endorse any candidate, we know from our studies that research shows proof positive that women as a whole, and mothers in particular, disengage when activism and campaigning turns nasty – not just in the presidential race to the nomination, but in life itself! It seems no wonder then, that a swell of support favors positive messaging, declaring that we are not to be saved by any one elected leader alone, but that yes, WE can make the difference all together. Yes, WE can be scrappy and strong and sassy and also sublime when we collectively hold corporate and government leaders accountable for policies that uphold values and services and for the great human family rather than a few select someones. We the mamas, say YES.
Exuberance in practical application means saying, for instance: “Thank you, Delta, for revising your policies in support of breastfeeding families,” instead of, “Hey, Frontier, you messed up and breastfeeding moms are angry!” or by saying “Children Deserve a Bigger Piece of the Pie” instead of “Bush Hates Kids.” But this is not about being sunny for sunny’s sake. This is about focusing on WHAT WE WANT rather than looking back at what we reject. It’s moving towards, rather than against.
While perhaps Pollyanna in part, this primary MAU principle is neither easy nor simple. Sustaining exuberance is a tough row to hoe, a perennial crop whose nutritive value staves off depression, indifference and offers a real life solution to overwhelm and fear. Kind of like mother’s milk for the great human family itself, exuberance promotes real security.
Go forth and be exuberant mamas. Live in liberation of what others’ think of your choices. Model this joyful abundance because it feels good, because your kids will enjoy it far more than staying holed up in fear and loathing, and because you’re likely to inspire others to sing along while plucking up the fruits of your labor.
Try sowing seeds of exuberance by sharing this essay with two friends and asking them to declare themselves Mothers Acting Up. Try bolstering your own activism by writing YES on a mirror with lipstick so you see it each day; the affirmation a reminder of your call to duty and your sheer brilliance in carrying out your mission.
Holler at me with your comments, questions and desire to act up!