“We don’t know how things will change so we are willing to experiment and learn from what we do. Through ongoing questioning, reflection and learning about what has worked elsewhere we will improve what we do and not get stuck in repetitive behaviour. This is an active and ongoing process, requiring time and input for individuals and groups to think about what has gone well and why, what would be better to be done differently.” (International Rebellion, Principles and values #5)

In Extinction Rebellion we value REFLECTING and LEARNING. We challenge dichotomous ideas of success and failure and instead seek to examine all of our work and participation through a critical lense. This blog series – Rebel Voices – invites Rebels to share learnings and reflections that have shaped them or that they hope might shape others. When you read a post in this series, you’ll know it is someone’s unique take on what Extinction Rebellion means in their life.

Many of our cultures have taught us that vulnerability is weakness. We disagree. Vulnerability is never possible without courage. Vulnerability invites people into connection. Vulnerability is a powerful force for challenging our deeply-entrenched assumptions. Vulnerability is an act of love and generosity and revolution.

We Rebels are asking everyone in the world to face up and say – “Oh crap! We have really messed up. And we need to change our ways for things to get better.” If we expect that of others, we have to be willing to enter that same space. We have to be willing to question those things we take for granted, and to observe the real effects that our actions can have on those around us. We need to commit to doing things differently based on new understandings. Perfection is a harmful myth.  If we let ourselves reckon with the truth that we will be learning, trying, messing up, learning, trying, messing up for as long as the struggle continues, we can be liberated from paralysis and act in spite of fear.

We are all trying new things in this Rebellion, whether it be getting arrested, running a meeting, being a Marshall at an Action, speaking openly with friends and family about our fears for our planet, or even taking a step back and making space for other people’s voices to be heard. We are nervous and excited and uncertain and sometimes awkward in these new endeavours. And sharing those things makes space for others to do the same.

Many of us come into this Rebellion holding privilege on multiple fronts (whiteness, age, gender, ability, heterosexuality, education, citizenship…). What is made effortlessly available to us is often invisible because it has always been so – it is the air we breathe. We might also find it hard to see the barriers that exist for others who are marginalised and the ways that we participate in perpetuating that same system that gives carrots to some and sticks to others. Unpacking the knapsack of privilege requires committed and honest reflection and learning. And sharing that learning can be a generous act, inviting others who hold that same privilege to join in that learning. Are you willing to do the work of speaking about your own privilege, so those who are marginalised don’t have to (again)?

Others of us come into this Rebellion having rebelled throughout our lives because our very existence challenges the status quo. Those of us who are disabled, queer, trans, black, brown, Indigenous, migrants, neurodiverse… we know a thing or two about surviving, about overcoming, about organising, about the power of collective resistance, about inclusion, about compassion. We have a wealth of hard-won knowledge and skills to share. And Extinction Rebellion absolutely needs to be guided by this wisdom in order to create the regenerative culture we are dreaming into existence.

So over to you. What is it you are willing to share with all of us? What learnings and reflections have shaped you or do you hope might shape others?

Rosie, Regen Culture, XRSA