Failing sucks. The lousy feeling you get after you fail is unavoidable. But it’s this experience of negative emotion that drives improved performance the next time around. Activist Courtney E. Martin broadens this concept when she examines failure in the context of political activism, in Lion’s Roar that makes sense in the context of students striking to provoke action against climate change.
She asks, “What does it mean to succeed or fail when it comes to matters of justice? How do we measure the effectiveness of work as messy, epic, and complex as activism? On an individual level, how do we make daily decisions that close the gap between values and actions? What does it look like to be a person operating where, as theologian Frederick Buechner puts it, one’s “deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet”?”
For the engaged citizen there are no fireworks, no guaranteed rewards or results. There is just consciousness, intention, community, celebration, perseverance, defeat, burnout, self-care. In the end, even if the entire system fails to change, it’s a good failure if you’ve made life a little kinder or more beautiful.