Our monthly Radical (Re)Imagining conversations have been bringing us so much joy and they have been integral to our process of choosing a new prompt each month. During both our talk with Jara Dean-Coffey in June and last month’s talk with Rakesh Mohan, conversation emerged around the meaning and use of the word RADICAL. So for August, we ask…
What does it mean to you to be radical?
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2 thoughts on “Totally Rad”
The term “radical” as a concept can have several meanings depending on how it is used. I tend to gravitate toward thinking about how individuals become “radicalized” and what that means. To me, it is a state of being wherein someone has fundamentally altered their views to push against a status quo, and typically has conservative or liberal leanings wherein each has different characteristics.
Within the context of reflective practice, I would think merging the two concepts would involve an event wherein an individual is radicalized to focus on their own thoughts, opinions, emotions, and impacts on self and others. I do not think it is a default sentiment to reflect, as it is challenging, uncomfortable, and sometimes threatening. Therefore, the status quo is to instead focus on other’s behavior and situations to seek meaning or to assign responsibility.
I have my own story as to how I became radicalized both in a political and reflective sense, and both stories are much different but share characteristics of being placed within situations where continuing a status quo would be more threatening than the hard work of pushing against societal and/or professional “norms”.
When I hear the word “radical,” my gut reaction is to think of challenging the status quo. Next I envision someone adopting extremist values and approaches to bring about change, which leads me to think about policy and politics. But I believe those definitions are just one facet of the term. Lately I’ve been reflecting on how the personal is political. I’ve been thinking about how we are fed this false dichotomy of our personal and professional lives. But there is just one of me in this world. I don’t want to check my personality and emotions at one door and pick up neutrality at another. I don’t want to devote one corner of my life to self care while being destructive in all the others. I want to be whole. In that sense, for me right now, being radical means to be unwaveringly and unapologetically myself at all times and in all spaces. Being radical means showing up, being authentic, and living my values. It means risking disappointing others so that I honor myself. Being radical mean having the courage to return to my core and, in doing so, hopefully challenging the systems and structures that surround me. Being radical means embracing change.