the power of the human spirit

Posted on December 14, 2012



Presuming competence …

… an ally of equality and empowerment.

… a tool of peace.

When you believe in a person, you awaken the power of the human spirit. Your belief, when clearly expressed, synchronizes with the desires and dreams of the person, and results in transformation that continues to surprise us in such wonderful ways. All we can do is step back in wonder of the human spirit and the creative Force behind all life.

This is my testimony to 32 years working among those that are marginalized, disregarded, and thrown away as worthless. Working in Special Education and with at risk youth for 28 of those years, I have seen how systems label people as failures and have felt their despair as they believe the messages that they are given. Over the last 4 years, I’ve been able to work with many of those same people to develop self confidence, find their voice, build leadership skills, and watch them go from being strong self advocates to advocates for their peers to advocating for systemic issues of inequality and injustice. They are even being recognized across the state in many ways as making a difference.

I’m here to tell you that every person is competent and will exceed our expectations… if we believe in them.

How can people believe in themselves if no one else does???

How can people lift themselves out of poverty from a lifetime of “failure” labels???

Who will take the courage, the risk, of putting one’s belief in the human spirit out there to see what might become of it?

You cannot “be” what you do not believe you can be.

I cannot “be” what I do not believe I can be.

Start with yourself. Then move to your own kids. Then move to others that have been stigmatized with “failure”. Watch what happens. I dare you!!!

If human beings are perceived as potentials rather than problems, as possessing strengths instead of weaknesses, as unlimited rather than dull and unresponsive, then they thrive and grow to their capabilities. (Robert Conklin)

But there is something that is much scarcer, something finer far, something rarer than this quality of Ability. It is the ability to recognize Ability. (Elbert Hubbard)

Those who believe in our ability do more than stimulate us. They create for us an atmosphere in which it becomes easier to succeed. (John Lancaster Spalding)

They are able because they think they are able. (Vergil)

Lack of something to feel important about is almost the greatest tragedy a man may have. (Arthur E. Morgan)

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. (Albert Einstein)

“…the fact that certain members of the oppressor class join the oppressed in their struggle for liberation, thus moving from one pole of the contradiction to the other… Theirs is a fundamental role, and has been throughout the history of this struggle. It happens, however, that as they cease to be exploiters or indifferent spectators or simply the heirs of exploitation and move to the side of the exploited, they almost always bring with them the marks of their origin: their prejudices and their deformations, which include a lack of confidence in the people’s ability to think, to want, and to know. Accordingly, these adherents to the people’s cause constantly run the risk of falling into a type of generosity as malefic as that of the oppressors. The generosity of the oppressors is nourished by an unjust order, which must be maintained in order to justify that generosity. Our converts, on the other hand, truly desire to transform the unjust order; but because of their background they believe that they must be the executors of the transformation. They talk about the people, but they do not trust them; and trusting the people is the indispensable precondition for revolutionary change. A real humanist can be identified more by his trust in the people, which engages him in their struggle, than by a thousand actions in their favor without that trust.”
― Paulo FreirePedagogy of the Oppressed

Paulo Freire says that “those who authentically commit themselves to the people must re-examine themselves constantly. This conversion is so radical as not to allow for ambivalent behaviour… Conversion to the people requires a profound rebirth. Those who undergo it must take on a new form of existence; they can no longer remain as they were.”