Thursday, December 1, 2016

Singing Your Fight Song A Capella

If there was ever an anthem for feminine power the summer of 2016, it was "Fight Song" by Rachel Platten. I wasn't really surprised when my girls seemed to like it and decided it would be good to put on their playlist. At the time, Hillary Clinton was riding high in the polls after the debates and celebrities were banding together to sing Fight Song in a glorious YouTube video masterminded by actress Elizabeth Banks.

I went to buy the song on iTunes, but was surprised to find two versions. I listened to the most popular one and guessed my daughters would want the highly-produced radio version with the big drums. Then, I listened to the acoustic version and knew that this was the one I had to have for me.

I know it's inspiring to hear the thumping bass and sing at the top of your lungs. I like that, too. Yet my experience is that in advocacy and in much of life, the meaningful victories are the result of unglamorous, unwitnessed grunt work. And that's when we have to sing our little fight song all alone to ourselves to keep going.

When I think of these two versions of the same song, it reminds me of running a marathon. The radio version is how it feels to be flying by all the crowds cheering you in the home stretch. It feels like a million high-fives all at once. But here's the thing. You will never sing that victory version of the song unless you're able to sing your fight song alone when the crowd's not singing with you. That acoustic version with the quavering voice is like all the hard, early morning, rainy day runs you do alone to prepare for the Boston Marathon. It feels like hosting an advocacy meeting when not one person shows up. It feels like your 20th form letter from your Congressman telling you he won't support your legislation. 

These Ugandan school children are reasons I fight.
They are fighting every day. Why can't I?
The hard truth is that if you can't keep going when no one else is physically in the room cheering for you, you might never make it to the finish line. That might not be good news, but it's reality. You have to supply your own drumbeat most of the time even when it seems like you're not making a difference at all. The most worthwhile successes don't come without the perseverance and hard work. When the going gets rough, RESULTS advocates remind ourselves of that with the shorthand phrase "Dirt work, dirt work, dirt work..miracle." You have to hold fast to the reasons you are fighting at all. As an advocate, cling to your motivations for starting the work and your memories of who you are fighting for in the first place. 

And know're not completely alone. You're never totally alone. I believe in you. You can do it. And sometime when we are eventually in the same room, we'll sing our fight songs together.