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It’s a Delicate Balance (with Mirah Curzer) [Podcast]

Editor’s Note: Stephanie and Mirah first talked for In Times Like These in April 2017, after the first Women’s March. In that conversation, Mirah shared her thinking then about activism, resistance, and political engagement. Mirah also attended the 2018 Women’s March, and the teachings and resources highlighted in this conversation remain as relevant as ever.

Mirah Curzer is an attorney, photographer, activist, and world traveler. In her work, she seeks to learn about others, and learn how to engage in successful policy change. She’s worked to engage with others around legal and political issues—including strangers—on social media. Sometimes, this has gone well. Sometimes, it’s ruined relationships. In this episode, we talk about engaging in contentious conversations on Facebook, how to teach others in public, why “resistance” is both inspiring and problematic, and how to learn for long-term work and practice.

Ways to listen to this episode:

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Why arguing on social media can have benefits even if you don’t convince your conversation partner
  • Why participation in local politics and media can be just as important as national and international political engagement
  • How learning from the rich history of activism in the US can be valuable (and affirming)
  • Why it’s necessary to understand the difference between “I” and “we” in long-term justice work

Top 3 takeaways from this week’s episode:

1. “To me, it felt really important to go run to something instead of running from something.”

Curzer participated in both the 2018 and the 2017 women’s marches, and captured much of the spirit of the marches in her photography. In times that many find divisive, she found that a sense of collective learning, dialogue, and purpose prevailed at the marches—and inspired further and deeper work.

'To me, it felt really important to go run to something instead of running from something.' Listen now: Click To Tweet

2. “Resist the urge to feel like if you can’t do it all, you can’t do anything.”

Curzer has spent a lot of time thinking about daily practices of learning and activism, and the longer-term work of building coalitions, creating policy, and working for sustainable change. In this conversation, she details the ways she thinks about the different kinds of work, and how not to feel overwhelmed.

'Resist the urge to feel like if you can’t do it all, you can’t do anything.' Listen now: Click To Tweet

3. “Activism is a long haul.”

While many of us want to bring about change immediately or react to perceived injustices and outrage, real civic engagement takes time, relationship, and strategy. What resources are available for building long-term education, real relationships with leaders and neighbors, and building on generational knowledge about positive social change.

'Activism is a long haul.' Listen now: Click To Tweet

Mentioned on the episode:

How to connect with Mirah and with us:

You can find Mirah on Twitter @MirahCurzer and on Facebook here. Mirah also has a Medium here.

You can connect with me on Twitter here: @SVarnonHughes. And you can always connect with us at CLU on our Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts linked here.

Like the show? Help us spread the word by giving us a rating and review on iTunes!

About the Podcast

In Times Like These explores the difficult spaces we humans navigate in culture and religion, in dialogue and doubt. We talk to voices from the field, in law, activism, civil rights, and from places of struggle and places of deep learning. In Times Like These, we unpack the most troubling issues of politics and faith we face, together.

In Times Like These is hosted by Dr. Stephanie Varnon-Hughes and is a CLU Live production by Claremont Lincoln University.

Stephanie Varnon-Hughes

Stephanie Varnon-Hughes

Stephanie Varnon-Hughes, Ph.D., is the Director of Cross-Cultural & Interfaith Programs at Claremont Lincoln University, and an award winning teacher and interfaith leader whose research interests include the history, theories, and practices of inter-religious education, mindfulness and compassion practices (with particular emphasis on practices from the Dharmic traditions, especially Jainism), public policy (especially regarding inequities in public education), and how digital and online resources can make education accessible and learner-focused. Her doctoral dissertation, in inter-religious education, focused on disequilibrium, resilience, and reflective practice as key ingredients for learning. She was a co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Journal of Inter-Religious Studies, a peer reviewed journal, and its sister publication, State of Formation, an online forum for emerging religious and ethical leaders. She holds a Ph.D. from Claremont Lincoln University, an M.A. and S.T.M. from Union Theological Seminary and her undergraduate degrees are in English and Education, from Webster University.

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Stephanie Varnon-Hughes

Stephanie Varnon-Hughes

Stephanie Varnon-Hughes, Ph.D., is the Director of Cross-Cultural & Interfaith Programs at Claremont Lincoln University, and an award winning teacher and interfaith leader whose research interests include the history, theories, and practices of inter-religious education, mindfulness and compassion practices (with particular emphasis on practices from the Dharmic traditions, especially Jainism), public policy (especially regarding inequities in public education), and how digital and online resources can make education accessible and learner-focused. Her doctoral dissertation, in inter-religious education, focused on disequilibrium, resilience, and reflective practice as key ingredients for learning. She was a co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Journal of Inter-Religious Studies, a peer reviewed journal, and its sister publication, State of Formation, an online forum for emerging religious and ethical leaders. She holds a Ph.D. from Claremont Lincoln University, an M.A. and S.T.M. from Union Theological Seminary and her undergraduate degrees are in English and Education, from Webster University.