This is usually the first step in realising we need to change something. We hear a new perspective, or encounter a new situation, which makes us think about the world differently. For many of us recently, the shocking murder of George Floyd has made us re-evaluate our experience and understanding of systemic racism. The images of pollution on Blue Planet made us reconsider how we use and dispose of plastic. Or we may have talked to a friend about their struggle to get help for mental illness, or seen an article about living conditions for cocoa growers.
Once we've heard that initial story, we will probably find that there are a lot more. Suddenly we're immersed in statistics, figures, conflicting opinions and personal experiences. We read books, watch documentaries, join Facebook groups, participate in discussions. We are learning not just what we didn't know, but how much we didn't know.
It can be tempting to get bogged down in the learning quadrant, trying to find out everything at once, or to give up in despair and ignore the whole thing. There's also the danger that we feel like learning is all we need to do - once we know about the issue, we don't actually have to do anything differently. For me, reading books is easy; getting involved with actual people is much harder.
In the wake of Black Lives Matter, it's been easier than ever for those of us who are white to learn what life is like for our black neighbours. I'm grateful to authors like Afua Hirsch, Ben Lindsay, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I'm grateful to my friends who have shared their experiences on Facebook or spoken up in church. There is a lot that I simply had no idea about. Learning more has been saddening, breathtaking, humbling and eye-opening.
Once we've started to sort through the mass of new information and emotions, the obvious question is, what do we do now?
followingThis is the action quadrant. I've titled it following partly because the original idea for this came from a Bible story, so the reference was to following Jesus; also in the sense that we follow the new ideas and stories to grow - they lead us to knowing different people, doing different things, organising our lives in different ways. Hopefully.
Image from Pixabay