Motivating change – a lesson from 2 train rides

I recently took a course on storytelling. It was an eye-opening experience to learn techniques and skills involved in the art of storytelling to encourage change. How stories can motivate and mobilize people are often ignored, perhaps because storytelling is considered a “soft” skill. But I realize that it is usually not the facts, numbers or data that compell me to act. Of course those are important; but what moves me beyond my inaction is the power of people’s stories, like those told by the survivors of atomic bombings.
In the course we were encouraged to take note of stories as we think of. So here is one!

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An Open Letter to Nikki Haley

20170316_112620Dear Ambassador Haley,

I was at the United Nations conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, which started on March 27.  I find it intriguing that those of us “activists” were inside the room, participating in the international law making process, while you and some other government leaders decided to boycott and protest it outside the room.

While we were celebrating the beginning of this historic process, with the determination to make the 72-year-old goal of abolishing nuclear weapons a reality, you held a press conference.

You said:

“As a mom, as a daughter, there is nothing I want more for my family than a world with no nuclear weapons. But we have to be realistic. Is there anyone that believes that North Korea would agree to a ban on nuclear weapons?

…. in this day and time we would love to have a ban on nuclear weapons but in this day and time we can’t honestly say that we can protect our people by allowing the bad actors to have them and those of us that are good trying to keep peace and safety not to have them.”

To me, it is beyond my intellectual comprehension to say that we need nuclear weapons in order to protect our families, communities, cities, and countries, when those very weapons can not only destroy everything in an instant, but also have long-lasting, devastating impacts on health and environment for generations to come.

I am also a mother.  My son recently turned 16 months.  At the conference we heard a testimony of Mr. Toshiki Fujimori, who was 16-month-old when the atomic bomb was detonated in Hiroshima.  He lost his sister in the attack.  He recalled:

“Every year, on August 6th, my mother would gather all of us children and would talk to us about her experience in tears. I once asked my mother why she would speak about it if recalling the experience makes her suffer. ‘I can’t make you go through the same experience.’ That was her answer.

Her tears were her heartfelt appeal. She called, as a mother, for a world with no more hell on earth.”

Imagining the sadness of his mother for losing her child to the senseless attack, I’m at loss of words.  But one thing is certain: I, too, want no nuclear weapons on this planet, so that no person will have to ever suffer the same hell they experienced.  Nuclear weapons do not provide us with security; they make it possible that, their intentional or accidental use can cause tremendous suffering to countless people.

I know that, when my son grows up, he will be proud of me for being part of this movement to rid the world of nuclear weapons.  He will understand that there is no better way to make this world safe, than removing the very causes of danger.

As a mother, I fight for nuclear abolition.

Yours sincerely,

Anna Ikeda

Story of New Story – Introducing Metta’s Roadmap

roadmap emergenceToday, the Metta Center for Nonviolence released its latest issue of monthly e-magazine, Emergence.  The issue focused on Roadmap, a way of making the movement of movements visual.  Roadmap is also a set of tools we can use as activists.  It is Metta Center’s attempt to offer three things to help create an unstoppable movement: unity, strategy, and nonviolent power.  The Vol 6 of Emergence will be a great “one-stop shop” for those seeking to learn more about Roadmap or simply trying become familiar with nonviolence and Metta’s work.

For this exciting issue, I helped compile all the pieces as a guest editor, and also contributed an article on “New Story,” one of the six wedges of Roadmap and one on which Metta Center places a great emphasis.  It was also very timely that the latest issue of Yes! Magazine featured “The Power of Story.”  The issue contains some powerful quotes on the need for new narratives that would remind us of our human dignity and interconnectedness with others.

Below is my article, “Story of New Story,” as published in Emergence.  I hope you enjoy it and also read the rest of the issue!

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Watch Your Mouth: The Shame of Shaming

Image courtesy of luigi diamanti /

Image courtesy of luigi diamanti /

Technology has changed the way we receive news. Not only do we get updates and breaking news instantly, we also have the ability to comment on articles and share on social media.

Every day, we read disheartening news from all over the world, such as the situation in Crimea and the scandal of a senator in California. Even after exploring so many human rights issues, it is still beyond me that human beings are extremely capable of harming others to promote self interests.

Equally disheartening to me, though, are some of the people’s comments, directed to in this case, Putin and Leland Yee. Continue reading

The Ultimate “Local” Activism

Image courtesy of Nujalee /

Image courtesy of Nujalee /

Before I post my part 2 on Venezuela, I wanted to get this post out.

While we tend to think of being an activist as something political or for a large social cause (and that is true), it is not the whole picture. To me, an activist is someone that seeks change for the better. It is someone who does not spare her voice for what she believes is right, one that does not settle for the status quo.

And if you think of it, we can apply that to any realm of life.

Yesterday, my friend reached out after she faced a problem at work. She was frustrated because she felt her hard work on a particular project was dismissed, and that the way the decision was made was not logical. While she knew something could have been done, she felt she would not be heard again. “I really don’t care at this point,” she said. Continue reading