What are the Five Tenets?
The Active-Ally Model was developed through my experiences. As I was thinking through my process and work, I noticed there were certain ways of being that became practices—practices which I hold, and which anchor me. These practices became The Five Tenets.
The Five Tenets offer a space to come back to, a space to inhabit, a space to hold. They are a space to set our struggles and confusions, a place in which we can work with others. The Five Tenets offer a hand, a shoulder, a conversation partner. So much of this work is done within us, within our beings.
The Five Tenets offer a space to ground ourselves as we move through the process of change and becoming. They act as checks and balances. The Five Tenets help us reorient when we find ourselves lost, confused, or unsure as we move toward who we are and who we want to be. They cannot be mastered; they are meant to be embodied. They offer a way to inform our movements, choices, thoughts, and actions.
To do this work well requires…
Honesty is the space between and outside of right and wrong. Honesty with our struggles, our joys, our fears and confusions. To be honest is to sit in the awkward and uncomfortable moments of ourselves, of others, and of our work. Honesty is not about right and wrong; it is not about truth. Honesty is not hierarchical, or about feeling better than another.
To sit in the hard and uncomfortable parts of ourselves and those around us requires finding grace for ourselves, our process, where we are and where we want to go. Grace is the space we come to when sitting with the honesty between right and wrong becomes uncomfortable or unpleasant. Grace embraces the complexities of human experience. It does not involve justifying behavior or to stop challenging. Finding grace allows the unfolding to happen at its own pace. Grace is about supporting our process of understanding as we challenge ourselves and the systems around us.
When we’re honest, we find and lean into grace. This opens space for vulnerability. Vulnerability invites others in. To be vulnerable is to risk. It is to risk feeling joy, intimacy, harm, love, and shame. To be vulnerable is to open space for possibility and growth. Vulnerability requires honesty, it requires grace. Vulnerability is to expose ourselves to others, with grace.
(Witness ourselves. Be witnessed. Witness others.) When we do this work alone, we often struggle with moving forward, with the “what’s next?”. To do this work well requires us to step into a space where we witness ourselves and allow ourselves to be witnessed by others. Witnessing facilitates the space to move from private to public, to remove the silos and vacuums of this work. To witness requires honest vulnerability and room for grace. To witness is to engage. We are not just watching or being watched – we are with and within the experience. We are part of the work. Witnessing others. To witness is to witness others as we witness ourselves. It is to witness their process and find grace as they step into vulnerability and honesty.
Commitment is agency, it is volition, it is choice. Commitment is to live in honesty, find grace, and embrace vulnerability. Commitment allows space for growth and possibility. It requires honesty in those moments when our Awareness shifts, grace for ourselves and our process, and the vulnerability to be witnessed and to witness.
Next Week: Active-Allyship: Three Foundational Understandings
Kyle Sawyer (he/they) is an anti-oppression facilitator and educator specializing in working with individuals and organizations on how to turn privilege into change. He is a trans, queer, mixed-race, white-passing individual. With over a decade of experience Kyle founded Building Allies in 2013 and developed the term Active-Ally, someone who witnesses injustice and responds to it in any situation. Kyle has worked with teachers, nonprofit organizations, students, therapists, social workers, community members, family members, and many others on learning how to be Active-Allies through an intersectional lens. He has received over 400 hours of training in the experiential cycle and has worked throughout the United States and abroad. Recently Kyle was invited to the ULEX Centre in Catalonia as an international facilitator to train transgender identified individuals on collaboration and teamwork. Through their work Kyle has facilitated workshops for: The Los Angeles Probation Department, Department of Mental Health, Department of Children and Family Services, The Museum of Tolerance, Capistrano Unified School District, National Center for Trans Equality, Lambda Literary Writers Retreat, UCLA, USC, Harvey Mudd University, Antioch University Los Angeles, multiple national conferences, and many more. Kyle has also worked as a facilitator for Training for Change, TransCanWork, and The Transgender Law Center. Kyle’s organization, Building Allies, is approved by the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists to sponsor continuing education for mental health service providers. certified Continuing Education Provider through the CAMFT organization. Building Allies maintains responsibility for this program/course and its content.