Tag Archives: empowerment

On the Violence We Do to Ourselves

by Aracely Mondragon, ’13

It is often easy to paint violence and oppression as something external to ourselves, say the aggressors is the white able bodied male because yes over history and institutionally there is a system with hierarchies set in place that is extremely violent… this is a vital conversation but so is that of our interpersonal relationships. What about the violence that goes on within our closest relationships and within ourselves? By violence I don’t necessarily mean physical abuse, but harm that can happen at both an emotional and psychological level. When you are bombarded with messages from society that try to tell you you’re not good enough, that you don’t belong, or that who you are is someone to be despised …. you have to think how much of that do you internalize? How much do you start believing and then disseminating? The more I think about all the small expressions of hostility I thought I had just let slide off, I realize how much of it I swallowed and let fester inside. I can’t help but think of what harm I have done to myself and others…. Continue reading

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POST-POWER PUPAE: What Leaders Can Learn From Anarchist Arthropods

by Jovel Queirolo, ’14

Look to the ant, though sluggard – consider her ways and be wise. Without chief, overseer or ruler, she gathers the harvest in the summer to eat in the winter.”  -Proverbs 6:6

For the past month or so, I’ve been spending about three hours a week watching video footage of harvester ants for an ant behavior project I’m working on in the lab of biologist Deborah Gordon. The more time I spend with the ants, the more intrigued I become with the relationships between an individual ant and its colony. Perhaps human activists can learn from harvester ants and their ability to see their lives as a part of the colony’s life. No ant is born or raised to do one specific task. Rather, at any given time, ants do tasks that will benefit the colony and enhance its chance of survival. For example, if there’s a lot of food around, more ants switch into foraging mode to gather food. If a part of the nest is damaged, then more ants switch into nest maintenance mode to repair the nest.

The ants appear to be quite selfless and are able to live in harmony with their fellow ants without any sort of “power ant(s)” orchestrating their work. In Ant Encounters, Stanford Biology Professor Deborah Gordon explains that, “An ant does not perform according to instructions – from some inner program, or from other ants of higher rank. Ants use local information, such as chemical communication, but they do not tell each other what to do… An ant’s behavior depends on both what it perceives in the world around it and on its interactions with other ants.”

What if humans could perform according to local information without telling each other what to do? What if our actions depended on our surroundings and on our interactions with other humans? Continue reading

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