There is this game/warm up that many a theatre teacher will use in classes called the human knot.
The class will stand in a circle, shoulder to shoulder. If the class is too big, you need to break them up into two different groups. Then the students will grab hands with someone who is across from them in the circle, making sure not to grab hands with the person standing next to them.
As everyone grabs hands, arms will get tangled, making the human knot.
Once everyone is knotted, the goal is to undo the knot.
I recently played this game with a group of sixth graders as part of a workshop I teach, called Project Hero.
Project Hero is a brilliant empathy building workshop developed by Kate Mueth. Through theatrical techniques and activities, we encourage students to use their empathy building muscles, and try to put the kibosh on bullying.
Although I'm a teaching artist for this program, Project Hero teaches me, too. It teaches me how to be a better artist, a better teacher, a better director, and a better human. It reminds me that we cannot lead if we have no empathy. And that empathy is something we all should continue to cultivate and foster and encourage.
But let's get back to this most recent workshop, and the human knot game.
One group was able to undo the knot.
One group was not.
Afterwards, when we were discussing the activity, the feedback was wonderful. The students were insightful, thoughtful, and wise beyond their years.
And when I asked them why they thought I used this game as part of my lesson, one student blew me away.
He said, so we understand the power of one voice.
I think that's a teaching moment that will forever be burned in my brain.
As adults it seems so easy for us to focus on the negative - we give platforms and words to our grievances rather than what we're grateful for, and I don't know about you, but it's exhausting.
And I'm over it.
We all have a voice. Fame withstanding, you have a voice. Whether you have a million followers on social media, or 70. Whether you lead hundreds of people in a Fortune 500 company, or a class of thirty.
You have a voice, and what you say matters. How you say it matters. How you choose to use it matters.
What you tweet matters.
It all matters.
Lately it seems like it's cool to make hate a hobby. And I just can't help but think - what would happen if we made a hobby out of love? Out of understanding? Out of basic human decency?
The world is not lacking negativity. This we all know.
So, you can add to the negative mess - or you can use your voice to untie the knots, and reveal the blanket of humanity that covers us all.
It's your choice.
It's always your choice.