The walls of my elementary school classroom, like most, were hung with posters carrying all manner of inspirational messages. (“The best preparation for good work tomorrow is good work today!”) The quotes were trite but true, as inspirational messages tend to be.
One in particular caught my fancy. “Nothing is more fragile than a snowflake,” it said. “But look what it can do when it sticks together.”
I remember feeling suddenly excited about the promise of that message—and I still feel that way today. It’s amazing what sticking together can do.
When it comes to fighting shame, sticking together is the most powerful force imaginable. The civil rights movement, the adoption reform movement, the recovery movement, and the women’s movement, just to name a few, illustrate how collective action can shrink the stigma that the dominant culture assigns to certain groups.
As new, more positive meanings develop, individuals begin to replace silence and shame with pride and the ability to speak up on their own behalf.