Forrest Gump is one of my favorite movies. I highly recommend watching this movie if you haven’t. It is about a man from a small town in Alabama, who has a low IQ.
Nobody expects him to do great things. But with encouragement from his mother, it gives him the motivation to accomplish many things. I knew when I came to DC, the one thing I had to see was the location where Forrest Gump gave his speech after receiving the metal of honor.
Now Washington, D.C. is famous for things much more substantial than Forrest Gump. A lot of which is political, and with all the things happening in Egypt, I associate politics with disaster.
However, while in DC, I had the opportunity to attend the Global Award Ceremony of Vital Voices. This is an organization that brings visibility to extraordinary women around the world by unleashing their leadership potential to transform lives and accelerate peace and prosperity in their communities.
I spent the evening inspired by amazing stories of women who had made such an impact in their community.
While hearing about the five women from the Middle East and North Africa region recognized for their courage during the Arab Spring, I thought of Martin Luther King’s quote, “The only real revolutionary… is a man who has nothing to lose”.
I didn’t realize however, that the Abraham Lincoln memorial was the same place where Martin Luther King gave his speech “I have a dream”. This is one of the most beautiful 17 minute speeches of all time; you can find it amongst other amazing speeches that changed history in this book. The speech was one of the best examples of how to start a movement by just focusing on a cause that everyone could relate to.
The revolution was the mobilizing of people who have nothing to lose. In the Arab world currently there are 1 out of 4 young people unemployed, with trouble finding jobs, no hope in the future. Martin Luther King was right, for things to change in the United States, in the world all around, a revolution had to happen.
In the movie, Forrest Gump, he is a great example of a person that rose to challenges to accomplish things, even when you have few people believe in you. Forrest Gump was an honest man that kept his word. He ends up going to war, won medals, started a ping pong craze, started a Shrimp Boat business, donated money, goes for a run (even though he was crippled as a child) that inspired a movement, created the Smiley Face, wrote slogans for bumper stickers and throughout the years over time, met the President of the United States several times.
Forrest Gump was able to rise to the challenges he had not only because he had courage and was determined, but because he had the love and encouragement of his mother.
From my trip to Washington D.C., I discovered many things. I discovered there are many things that make a person someone who can make changes happen. Such as Forrest Gump, Martin Luther King and the women I had met that had made an impact in their community by unleashing their leadership potential and becoming a voice to be heard.
We can all become a voice to be heard, a person to be recognized with encouragement, love and support from our families and those closest to us. Along with those things, I offer the following steps to help you become that voice:
- Share the Why: One of the key take away from my trip was how those we see as great leaders inspire everyone to take action through focusing on sharing the why for the cause they are supporting. A book I read during my trip to Washington DC, “Start with Why” uses Martin Luther King’s speech. Reverend King never said “I have a plan” in his speech. He said “I have a dream” and those words gave hope to people.
- Start with yourself: Young Tunisian blogger, Amire Yahyaoui shed light to make changes, you have to start with changing yourself. To begin to lead others, you must start doing things and others will follow. The old saying “Do as I say and not as I do” aren’t the words of a true leader.
- Never be afraid of the truth: While most people would find it to be gutsy, or stupid, Yemeni journalist, Shatha Al-Harazi, is one who speaks her mind, speaks the truth as she sees it. It was an inspiration to me when recounted her visit with the President of Yemen and told him that for the greater good of the country, he should leave the office. Many people, young and old alike, are afraid to speak up. Shatha is a wonman of inspiration with her boldness.
- Engage with people: Recognize that you can’t create sustainable change alone. You must reach out to the people and the community around you. To make changes, your must first understand the needs of those people in the community. Being a change maker is a lot about listening rather than just speaking.
After reading my blog and what I have learned and shared with you, I offer you more inspiration. Hear the stories of these women tell how they were able to accomplish what they did:
- Marianne Ibrahim (Egyptian Interfaith trainer)
- Amire Yahyaoui (Tunisia Blogger)
- Manal Alsharif (Saudi Arabian women driver)
- Salwa Bugaighis (Libyan mobilizing women into cabinet)
- Shatha Al-Harazi (Yemeni journalist)