by Sama Bakr, 1st October 2015
A Leadership Programme with Soul
It was years before I decided to sign up to the Catalyst course. I was very sceptical. It had been described to me as ‘hippy’ workshops, a leadership programme, a place to go deep down and question your soul and a week that would positively change your life.
To be honest, that sounded not too bad. At the same time I thought the catastrophic situation of the world does not give us the privilege to ponder on these elements. Climate change has been fatally affecting communities for the past few decades, especially those who are the most deprived financially and socially within our neo-liberal system.
It has been claimed that severe droughts, linked to man-made global warming, were a major cause of the civil unrest going on today in Syria. They “led to the migration of as many as 1.5 million people from rural to urban areas,” and many are now attempting to reach European borders at the cost of their lives. 1
Another scenario can be witnessed in the Maldives and Tuvalu, where their inhabitants may be obliged to flee their own country as a result of rising sea levels and the risk of the flooding of low-lying areas [UNHCR]. 2
These are only a couple of examples amongst many, showing the effects climate change is having on large groups of people around the world, let alone Nature itself.
Today, we are far from the myth of global warming and, personally, I am getting a little scared about how it is going to affect my own life. We need to stop it and it is being shown loud and clear that those in power – the corporations and the politicians – are only worsening the situation. But they only represent a mere 1% (max!) of the global population, which means that in my privileged position as somebody who does not need to think about when my next meal will be, I have the possibility and the duty to take action for all the beautiful elements that surround me. I need to exit this unjust and destructive game I was born into, and with the people around me, build one by our own rules.
At the age of 25, I finally joined the Catalyst Course. Through the week, I learned to dive deep into myself, discovering the barbed wire fences I had put in my way that were impeding my full self to be expressed. By cutting through these wires on the inside, I found my hidden confidence and courage to move forwards on the outside, developing simultaneously my inner and outer trails.
The course is about questioning what is governing our lives — be it patriarchy, consumerism or capitalism— and empowering ourselves to ‘disobey’ i.e. to govern ourselves. We can discover our own inner leadership and pave the path we want to walk, one of solidarity and respect, freedom and justice.
Sama is a young adult based in the UK and France. As an Earth and Earthlings defender, she is involved in global justice movements that range from fighting the fracking industry, to Palestinian solidarity work, to her involvement in facilitating spaces to brew and enact creative ideas for positive change.
Currently, with the Time to Cycle network, she is organising a mass cycle ride from London to Paris in order to take part in the COP21 this December. As much symbolically as physically, the ride will be a moment to connect, skill share and train in order for the participants to be empowered to disobey and build a resilient movement to take action in Paris and beyond.
Find out more about the ride and how you can join here: www.timetocycle.org