[Images: floor mosaics at London’s National Gallery]
The Pope has just issued a call for a ‘revolution of tenderness’ in a surprise TED Talk. He calls on leaders to “connect [their] power with humility and tenderness”.
He goes on to say: “The future of humankind isn’t exclusively in the hands of politicians, of great leaders, of big companies. Yes, they do hold an enormous responsibility. But the future, is, most of all, in the hands of those people who recognize the other as a “you”, and themselves as part of an “us”. We all need each other.”
For a world so supposedly interconnected, we seem to be losing the language of tenderness, and of caring. The language of love. Part of the challenge the world faces today is a crisis of caring. We are losing our ability to care — for our neighbour, and so for our world.
Bob Dylan’s recent Nobel prize for Literature underlines one of the things I’ve always appreciated about him — his poetry, and the way he uses metaphor and rhythm and beauty to tap into personal and universal experience. Earlier today, I was struck by one of his lyrics whilst listening to Shelter from the Storm. It was a lyric I’d never properly noticed before —
In the next three weeks, I’m going to these three talks at the RSA in London:
1. Creating Freedom — filmmaker Raoul Martinez will tackle “economics, philosophy, politics, criminology, psychology and environmentalism, and shows that the more we understand how the world shapes us, the more effectively we can shape our world.”
2. Together Is Better — “global bestselling author and leadership guru Simon Sinek offers inspiration and advice for finding purpose and fulfilment in life and work through our connection with others.”
3. The Power of Disorder to Transform our Lives — “renowned economist Tim Harford explains that embracing chaos and mess is the only way to be truly creative, innovative and resilient.”
I feel uncomfortable saying I am a ‘feminist’, although I agree with the fundamental premise of feminism, which according to the Cambridge English dictionary is “the belief that women should be allowed the same rights, power, and opportunities as men and be treated in the same way.”
Of course they should be. And of course, women in many parts of the world are appallingly still seen and treated like lesser beings. Women’s rights movements need to go full throttle until equality is achieved.
But that definition doesn’t go far enough. It focuses on external equality (which is important and should be a foundation), but it doesn’t touch what’s possible. I am more than a feminist. And I don’t hate men (in fact I know some men who are more supportive of women’s opportunities than some women I know are). So what’s beyond the feminism of external equality and power suits? And who do we need in these emerging global narratives?
Yesterday I was lucky enough to be in an audience at the RSA in London, watching Krista Tippett in conversation with Elizabeth Oldfield (who is Director of the think tank Theos).
Krista Tippett is a bit of a role model of mine. She’s a Peabody Award-winning broadcaster and New York Times best-selling author. In 2014, she received the National Humanities Medal from Barack Obama for “thoughtfully delving into the mysteries of human existence.”
Pulitzer Prize-winning Annie Dillard is one of my favourite authors. Her non-fiction narratives and explorations have helped me see things I would never have otherwise seen, and have given me ‘permission’ to probe deeper into my own wonderings and curiosity. If you’re into nature and discovery, I highly recommend her simultaneously beautiful and brutal book Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.
In The Writing Life, Dillard offers her nuanced thoughts and stories that will interest both non-writers and writers alike. Feeling her soul and light and quest for deep truth come at you page after page, like waves breaking, is both intimidating and illuminating; reassuring and provocative. Her mind and prose have inspired me to ‘shine my own light, and not hide it under a bushel’. Highly recommended for artists, creatives and seekers!
I’ve been elected onto the RSA Fellowship!
The RSA is the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, and being in the Fellowship basically means I get to use the letters FRSA after my name 😉
More importantly, it means I am part of a network that enriches society through ideas and action. I hugely align with the platform and ideas that the RSA cultivates, which all work to release human potential:
“Our mission is to create the conditions for the enlightened thinking and collaborative action needed to address today’s most pressing social challenges.
We serve this mission by acting as a global hub, by enabling millions of people to access the most creative ideas, by nurturing networks of innovators, and through researching, testing and sharing practical interventions.”
I’m thrilled to be a part of the RSA network, and I can’t wait to get stuck in…
I love Anne Lamott’s writing. In Bird by Bird, she gives great writing advice told through the lens of her wisdom, experiences and funny stories.
I think good writing is about telling the truth, and telling what you know. Here, Lamott uses her truth and vulnerability, shares what she’s learned along the way and encourages and provokes the reader to just start writing! Highly recommended!