Stories of the Revolution

Whether you call it the movement or the revolution, most people I know desperately want to see a major shift in America and the world’s priorities including; pulling people out of poverty, reforming public education, ending this senseless war, helping put an end to the Darfur conflict, saving the planet, etc. Regardless of the issue, we are down for the “cause” so to speak. For those of us that share this burning desire, it is sometimes hard to understand why so many people just don’t get it.

I believe the reason why we don’t have more allies and suffer from reaching more people is because we allow the issues to overshadow our stories. By stories, I mean the experiences that sparked your desire to actively make this world better through mentoring, activism, organizing, etc. It could be a book you read, rally you attended, or class that you took. Whatever the reason, I ask that you mine your memory to pinpoint when and how you “got it”. It may not be one experience but that’s ok. Once you have this in mind, write it down and dwell on it.

The key here is to make sure that you understand how your story inspired your life’s mission and that when you get discouraged, you understand why you do the work that you do. Moreover, once you weave your story into the way you communicate your passion to others, you will notice that “story energy” is much more transferable than talking about why your issue is so important given the socioeconomic constructs of our society.

Lastly, it is quite a privilege to have a set of issues you care about and be able to work on them. With this privilege comes responsibility and part of that is showing other people possible ways they can have “aha” moments and start to live life with purpose.

What is your story?

Stay up fam,

Brandon Q.



6 responses to “Stories of the Revolution”

  1. Martha says :

    It’s often that people tell me that I am too liberal or think I’m angry at the world. I laugh it off, but yesterday everything came full circle. Just as I’m about to receive a Master’s in Public Policy, I’ve realized that the very people
    that have the exact responsibility to “change” the world are not really programmed to do that. We are taught to work in a system that needs to be completely re-programmed. Instead of “fighting the system”, we are taught to function within it.

    Yet, we all talk about the changes we want to see. Many of us want drastic changes, but the real issue is who is willing to deal with the consequences?

    There’s a difference between understanding a “cause” and actively working to correct it. The fact of the matter is, many of us have no idea just what the “cause” is in a holistic sense. We de-contextualize most policy issues and therefore do not have an inkling of what is really going on.

    Blogs are great to create a better understanding.

  2. Fati says :

    I had been a freshman in college for about 3 months and joined a premed student organization. I would always see these gorgeous Muslim women, one Sudanese, the other South Asian. I desparately wanted to approach them and say salaam, but I always assumed they’d judge me for not covering.

    Praying, fasting, going to the Masjid was hard without having the support of a Muslim community. I really wanted to make Muslim friends.

    That winter break, I went back to my parents house. It happened to be Ramadan, so I had extra time during the fasting days to reflect.

    When I went back to school for the spring semester, I was officially, a “hijabi.” One would think that I’d finally be able to approach those Muslim women and start making friends and everything would be fine.

    I was so self conscious, so nervous about the decision I had made to wear hijab, so worried about not being able to “fit in,” that I walked around with my gigantic ski jacket on and the hood over my head for two weeks. Good thing it was January in Wisconsin.

    I went to the bookstore to get books for classes and saw a buddy from high school moving through the stacks. I threw on my hood and jumped behind a shelf to hide. When I left the store that day, I was so disgusted with myself.

    How ironic. Not wearing hijab made me afraid to approach hijabi Muslims. Wearing hijab made me afraid of being different from dominant society. How pathetic and lost can one be? When does one just accept who she is and be strong in that identity, and do what’s necessary to fight for the right to have that identity?

    It was time for me to step up, be proud of my decision, and work to create an atmosphere for anyone else who wanted to assert their identity with confidence, the ability to do so.

    But, identity’s might change…so this atmosphere that I speak of, should be flexible.

    Lakum deenukum wali uddin.

  3. Meela says :

    What Inspires Me…

    Some of the inspiration that keeps me going and doing the work I do is LIFE itself and not taking the fact of living for granted. I’m not really sure if I am about to share my story or the story of someone very close and dear to me. Regardless, the point is that this is something I think about when I am struggling and I want to give up, and this is something I think about when I feel as though something great has been accomplished.
    I spent four months….for four months I was hungry, angry, emotionally drained, tired, poor and praying like I had never prayed before, but I was living. However, my sister was dying. At 22 years old she had accomplished more than some people would ever accomplish in a lifetime, and furthermore, she had done so with such grace and humility that unless you lived with her, you would not have known the many great things she accomplished.
    Whether it was taking care of siblings, working at a hospital, mentoring, volunteering, offering spiritual guidance or studying to someday become a doctor and provide healthcare for those who cannot afford it; her focus was always on the “cause”. I’ve never met anyone so focused and devoted to everything in her life, yet so selfless at the same time.
    She embodied what was meant by the word “righteous”, and not in a mechanistic, superficial way, but in the way it was meant to be practiced and lived.
    So why do I keep fighting for the cause? Because quite honestly I feel that it is the least that I can do. The time that has been given to me is precious, sacred, and brief. And to spend so much time on selfish desires is futile seeing how very small I am compared to the grandeur of G-d and his universe.
    Although those four months and the time afterwards were by far some of the most challenging times in my life, I learned some incredible things.
    Whether or not my sister was able to see all of the things she wished to accomplish fulfilled was not what was most important. What was of greater importance was the incredible impact she had on my life and the lives of those around her. People often tell me that my dreams and goals are unrealistic, I should give up fighting for different causes, that everything is so messed up and there is no point of trying to “save the world”. I think what people don’t understand is sometimes it is not about a specific end or final goal. Yes, to obtain success is a wonderful thing, but if it were not for the building of character and strength of purpose that is gained a long the way, the accomplishment would leave all those involved very empty.
    Even though we might not ever save the world or save someone’s life in a strictly physical and literal sense, my sister didn’t know it but she had in fact saved my life because she made me realize what is important and what the journey is all about. If I can share a little bit of what she shared with me with someone else, if I can “save a life”, I don’t think I will be so much fighting for a cause or an issue. I think what this simply means is that I know what it is to feel alive.
    By Jewel

    If I could tell the world just one thing
    It would be that we’re all OK
    And not to worry ’cause worry is wasteful
    And useless in times like these
    I won’t be made useless
    I won’t be idle with despair
    I will gather myself around my faith
    For light does the darkness most fear
    My hands are small, I know
    But they’re not yours, they are my own
    But they’re not yours, they are my own
    And I am never broken
    Poverty stole your golden shoes
    It didn’t steal your laughter
    And heartache came to visit me
    But I knew it wasn’t ever after
    We’ll fight, not out of spite
    For someone must stand up for what’s right
    ‘Cause where there’s a man who has no voice
    There ours shall go singing
    My hands are small I know
    But they’re not yours, they are my own
    But they’re not yours, they are my own
    I am never broken
    In the end only kindness matters
    In the end only kindness matters
    I will get down on my knees, and I will pray
    I will get down on my knees, and I will pray
    I will get down on my knees, and I will pray
    My hands are small I know
    But they’re not yours, they are my own
    But they’re not yours, they are my own
    And I am never broken

  4. Brandon Q. says :

    What’s up fam, thank you so much for the comments, they are much appreciated.

    Meela, I think all of us who read your comment was positively influenced by the impact your sister has on your life. I can’t possibly add to anything you said but I will say that your story is indicative of the fact that you never really know what drives an individual and the importance of deeper-level listening. I was also reminded of how important it is to realize that everything about us is communicating a story and our very being could be the catalyst for someone else’s inspiration.

  5. Brandon Q. says :

    Fati, I appreciate your sharing,

    I wonder though, how were able to extend your independence in subsequent situations? More specifically though, I know that you are passionate about disparities in the health care system, how did you get to that place?

    Stay up fam,

    Brandon Q.

  6. Brandon Q. says :

    Martha, first let me say congratulations on getting a Masters in Public Policy.

    Based off your first paragraph, I didn’t know if you were including yourself in the “we.” If so, I wonder how you feel about working in the system. I am of the belief that we need people inside and outside of the system.

    You are right, few of us have an idea what the “cause” is and I think the more personal the cause is, the more effective we are as a community. (If your cause is education, change it!)

    But what is your story? How did you get to public policy and what do you seek to change?

    Thanks Martha,

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