Practicing Sister Courage in the Digital Age

Perhaps you caught it, earlier this summer Jonathan Safran Foer wrote one heck of a column for The New York Times on how we use and mis-use technology called “How Not to Be Alone.” As someone who resisted purchasing an iPhone forever and now depends on it for almost everything, it came at exactly the right time and has helped me unplug.

Image via  Move The Crowd

Image via Move The Crowd

Of course I came across this column online because everyone was sharing it and I get a bunch of my news from trusted online communities. So we find ourselves in a tricky place and time in history. Social media helps us stay connected and keeps us very much alone if we aren’t careful. We can use it to distract ourselves and others or to spread information and stories that wake ourselves and each other up.

A few weeks ago, thanks to Twitter, I stumbled across another great piece of media that woke me up, woke me up, woke me up! Rha Goddess’s keynote address at the 2011 Bioneers conference (take 15 min to watch it, trust me). I had just discovered Move the Crowd, Rha Goddess’s latest project, and so I went and did a little research to learn more about her. And then I found this video from two years ago, in which she shares this:

“As next wave women we commit to self-determination and working across culture, race, and class as deliberate testimony to the power of collaboration among the underserved and under-engaged… We work eyeball to eyeball mentoring, nurturing, and challenging one another. Not like charity… more like universal sisterhood in the making… What we are calling the state of our world is simply a reflection and projection of our internal afflictions being played out. Next wave women understand this, and we dedicate ourselves to sustainability, and we hold our centers like we hold each other, and together we hold the planet, rocking the world back into balance… one woman at a time.”

Sisterhood is not a word I use lightly or often. But hearing Rha speak these words, in my heart I felt yes, this is what we need to do for each other, this is what sisterhood looks like and feels like. We need to name the problems and solutions and possibilities we face alone and together and do it with power, compassion, and grace. And not only talk among ourselves as women, but talk with the world about what we’re learning and seeing. This is the kind of sisterhood I’m interested in and women’s movement building I want to support.

Rha Goddess and the work of Move the Crowd, like so many good organizations out there, reminds me not only that it’s entirely possible to stay authentic online, but how important it is that we do so.

Gloria Feldt talks about “sister courage”. Be a sister. Have courage. Put the two together and act with sister courage to create a movement. This work is going to look different in a digital age, but it’s essentially the same work women have been doing for decades upon decades.

To be a sister, Feldt reminds us we must support each other. For example, in addition to advocating for ourselves (this is good!), we need to also offer our vocal support in meetings, give each other public kudos (share each other’s work, make helpful introductions, write recommendations for each other online, whatever it may be), and be mentors for each other, as Rha says.

To have courage, we need to inspire each other and more than this, I think we need to know what inspires us. This word “inspire” doesn’t mean much more anymore, but what it’s really about is helping each other focus on what matters and notice where our attention is going. When we stumble across someone else’s joy, power, clarity of vision, and voice—offline or online—we are much more likely to locate our own.

Which leaders and organizations are you paying attention to these days in order to stay awake and energized and inspired? Please share in the comments below!

About the Author

Lex Schroeder is a writer and speaker on gender equity, systems change, and the future of work. She is a Leadership Ambassador with Take The Lead and is based in NYC. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @lexschroeder.