In all of our actions, we must seek to be living examples of the changes we wish to see in the world.
By walking the path, we make the path visible.
~Chief Phil Lane, Jr.
Have you read the story of Becky Crabtree, the courageous 64 year old science teacher who chained herself inside her rusted out 1971 Ford Pinto to slow down construction of the 303-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline in West Virginia?
Seeing herself and her dilapidated Ford as one of the only obstacles impeding the construction of 2 billion cubic feet of fracked natural gas flowing through her property, Becky summoned up her fearlessness to make a stand for her neighbors and the planet .
In an interview with VICE NEWS , Crabtree is quoted to have said “It just hit me. I can’t just teach my students about climate change and have them fill out a sentence about fossil fuel energy and its negative impact. I know what the impacts are. I have to live this.”
Her act of civil disobedience got her arrested on August 1.
And though she was released later that same day, Becky’s courageous actions slowed down pipeline construction just long enough for a panel of judges on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia to nullify permits, bringing the pipeline to a stand still, at least temporarily.
I have found myself repeatedly telling Becky Crabtree’s story to friends and colleagues over the past few weeks, inspired by an extraordinary woman emboldened enough to walk her talk.
What does it mean to walk our talk?
The Urban Dictionary defines “walk the talk” as backing up what is said with action. Essentially it is practicing what we preach.
And at first glance, it appears that of course we would not say we believe in certain values if we didn’t live them. Right?
We all know (or should) that certain behaviors, i.e. stealing, lying, cheating are outsides the bounds of propriety.
Yet on any given day the news is filled with multiple stories of people who knew the path, who talked the talk but couldn’t seem to walk it.
Case in point, earlier this month the state of Pennsylvania released its grand jury report that detailed decades of sexual abuse by hundreds of Catholic priests.
Even though these men of the cloth knew better they made the choice to commit these egregious acts. Not exactly godly.
And as heinous as their crimes are, they are not alone in their wrong doing. Our daily news feed reports police officers shooting innocents, Hollywood icons drugging starlets for sex, corporate bribery scandals, hush money, political bribes…the list goes on.
If you are a woman of a certain age (mine) you have undoubedtly faced sexual harassment on some level. And yet there’s Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Bill Cosby and countless others thinking they are above reproach.
For many, there is a definite disconnect between who they say they are and how they act.
The difference between the few and the many
All know the way; few actually walk it
In these challenging times it may seem that the assault on decency is growing exponentially, unchecked.
But the Good news is, it’s NOT.
Secrets long hidden beneath the cloak of darkness are simply coming into the light. Injustices, in some instances, decades in the making, are being revealed.
Systemic indecencies are simply becoming more transparent. The dark underbelly of human behavior is being exposed..
And it seems like it’s EVERYWHERE…
Yet, if we look closely, we can see those who champion integrity stepping forward.
~Earlier this month, after witnessing former CIA Director John Brennan having his security clearance revoked , Retired Navy Admiral William McRaven wrote that he would “consider it an honor” if President Donald Trump revoked his security clearance as well.
McRaven’s speaking out led to thirteen former senior intelligence officials denouncing the action against Brennan. As recently as August 20th another 175 former US officials added to the list.
~Colin Kaepernick took a knee to protest police brutality against African Americans and other minorities in September 2016. Many players followed his lead . Controversial as it was, it brought talk of racial injustice to every football watching family in America.
In May of 2018, When the NFL owners enacted a national anthem policy prohibiting players from “taking a knee” protesting racial injustice, Jets chairman Christopher Johnson backed his players’ right to protest.
This in turn caused the players union to file a grievance. Currently the NFL’s new “Kneeling Policy” is on hold.
~ Last week the Boston Globe lead a nation wide editorial effort declaring journalists are not the enemy, in protection of our first amendment right to Free Press.
Happily, each of these movements against injustice began with just with one person having the courage to walk their talk.
Taking The Road Less Traveled
There is a difference between knowing the path & walking the path.
The truth is every single day each and every one of us gets the chance to choose whether we will live up to the high ideals that we set for ourselves and others.
Some of these choices will be easy. Others…not so much.
And I get it, no one wants to be the first on the dance floor, standing in the spotlight, having your every move judged.
It takes cojones to question the status quo, to subject oneself to derision and ridicule.
Given the chance, many of us prefer the role of silent observer, nodding our assent from the sidelines.
Too many of us.
Many of us are scared sh*t-less watching what is happening. We discuss it, we wring our hands and we scream at our televisions.
We obsess about a world we thought we knew being dismantled.
We feel paralyzed and we have mistaken that momentary paralysis as helplessness. Or worse…hopelessness.
It takes a certain level of guts to be the voice for the voiceless, a strong backbone to assert the unpopular truth.
Yet the current times are asking us to dig deep, to look at ourselves in the mirror and loudly claim the integrity at our core.
Can any of us look at the myriad of global injustices: environmental disasters, humanitarian crises, racial inequality, gender inequity, sexual abuse, political chicanery, monetary fraud, poverty, homelessness et al and not feel sickened?
I know I can’t.
Our silence is complicity.
Here’s the thing…
If the current state of affairs has taught us anything, it is that we cannot expect our elected officials to speak out against injustice.
Changing our world for the better will need to be a grassroots effort.
It demands that each of us be willing to speak our truth, despite the personal discomfort it causes.
It demands that we listen to one another.
And then lead by example.
Walking our talk is a moment by moment practice.
I’m ready to commit.
Will you join me?
I challenge you to make your life a masterpiece.
I challenge you to join the ranks of those people who live what they teach, who walk their talk.
~ Anthony Robbins