Create, Share, Connect
Seven years ago I asked some friends to help me write and give away 14 words for love to people in public spaces like parks, bus terminals, hospitals, shelters. Two years later, several hundred Face book friends invited their friends to join us and over 3000 poems were posted and shared around the world. Teachers introduced the 14 Words For Love mission to their students. At least two schools devoted February 14 to poetry, benevolence, and community.
Just as exciting, we—the writers and sharers of those small creations—connected.
Why 14 Words for Love? "14 words" is shorthand for white supremacists' motto. The fact that groups like this exist is something I can't change, but their claims to own 14 or any number of words made me angry. Instead of holding onto that anger, I wanted to channel it into action, to repurpose 14 words, and here we are.
What good could writing a few words of empathy and gratitude for a diverse community possibly do? I knew based on my work that you can't change people's minds by teaching or preaching diversity and inclusion. I could, however, provide a platform and encouragement for those of us who believe our primary identity is human. No group based on ethnicity, race, age, ability, or gender identity is superior.
The White House was very different seven years ago, but the news reminded us we were not living in a post-racial society. The Bureau of Justice reported a spike in hate crimes (mostly racially motivated) over 2011-12. Today, an increasingly dangerous rhetoric of exclusion and apathy has become disturbingly familiar. But it is not normal.
Intolerance, divisiveness, and hatred of "other" reflect our most weak, fearful, and uncreative selves.
14 Words for Love has no political or religious affiliations. Our mission is to provide a truly inclusive space where everyone is invited to write, create art and start conversations that explore our shared humanity.
Thanks to a family of old and new friends, we now have an easy, create-and-share platform. We offer a creative space to write, to appreciate and comment on others' work, some resources to start your own 14 Words for Love community events, themed 14 Words for Love packs, frameable prints, note cards, T-shirts and beginning soon: quarterly contests.
Thank you for being uniquely and lovably you!