I asked what my mantra for 2021 should be & found a black diamond run named “Radical” while skiing yesterday. It seems sort of obvious considering my Instagram name/other account which was inspired by the BLM & social justice revolution in America last summer. The revolution for human rights which continue today.
The label “Radical” has come to be to designated as “political extremists” as “perverse, “unpatriotic,” or “terrorists.”
It is counterintuitive and maddening that the human race is pitted against one another instead of being mutually cooperative.
If believing in simple human rights for each other means “radical views” than myself & many others will hold these beliefs & that label forever.
But the word #Radical has many other meanings and a long linguistic and genre-spanning history than what political overtones the word has come to be associated with these days.
According to Webster’s “When something is considered extremist or very different from anything that has come before it, call it radical.”
The earliest uses of radical are indeed all about literal roots, hinging on the meaning “of, relating to, or proceeding from a root.”
Being radical also means something that is “Markedly new or introducing revolutionary change.” By going to the roots and re-structuring, building new, becoming a new creation from the roots up.
From Webster’s- None of this will surprise the botanists: they know that radical leaves grow from the base of a stem or from a rootlike stem, and radical tubers grow from a plant’s root.
And linguists know that a verb’s radical form is its root form. In medicine, radical surgery is surgery that’s designed to remove the root of a disease.
And mathematicians and students of mathematics know that the radical sign—√ or √⁻—is used when you’re finding the square root of a number or formula.
Root itself is a familiar element in metaphoric language—we talk about “the root of the problem,” “putting roots down,” “a family’s roots”—and so perhaps radical was destined to develop figurative use too.
Radicals can also be political or societal groups. I.e. Radical feminists view society as fundamentally a patriarchy in which men dominate and oppress women. Radical feminists seek to abolish the patriarchy as one front in a struggle to “liberate everyone from an unjust society by challenging existing social norms and institutions.”
This idea and many like them gave birth to LGBTQ liberation and movements.
Perhaps the most interesting & important of all the multiple iterations of this word may lie in the idea and practice of “Radical Forgiveness.”
(RF) has the ability to shifts one’s perspective on life by fundamentally seeing struggles through an altogether different lens. From the RF perspective, life’s events happen ‘for’ us, rather than ‘to’ us.
Radical Self-Forgiveness/Self-Acceptance takes the embodiment of unconditional love & gives it a sort of framework. When You feel a negative automatic thought or emotion you accept & redirect it- similar to Cognitive Behavioral therapy.
“I’m not OK, you’re not OK; but that’s OK!” RF captures the truth about who we are and the fact that we were never meant to be perfect. If we were, there would be no one to create opportunities for us to experience forgiveness. Our perfection lies in our imperfection.
The challenges presented by 2020 have affected us all across the world. But maybe 2020 was the year we needed- to truly empathize with one another,
To see that the old ways were not working. That we needed a revolutionary change.
Radical “is something is considered extremist or very different from anything that has come before it, call it radical.”
The problems we are facing globally, societally, in our communities, personally are different and more complicated than those that came before in recent collective memory.
A challenge also presents the opportunity for solutions. When we open ourselves to the possibilities of fulfilling our true purpose the way will make itself more known. Fulfillment in our role to each other, to our planet, to our destinies are being clarified and prepared in the midst of chaotic and uncertain times.
There are answers to generational longings that are coming into being through the year of questions and uncertainty. It’s okay that we are weary and saddened by the suffering of others. This must encourage us to keep up the fight that we are currently in.
We must not grow complacent. And we are not alone. We are always in the process of becoming. We have the chance to become something more beautiful and radically different than came before and that’s exactly what all this shifting and sorting of humanity has been about. We are going to be greater than ever before because that’s where the Universe, this Pandemic, the fight for social justice, for police and authoritative accountability, where global prosperity, where the hearts and souls of our children and humanity is leading us towards- just as it always has. 💙