So much has happened in the last few weeks, I’ve found myself waking every morning and unconsciously bracing for what might happen next. Hurricane Harvey and devastating fear for the most vulnerable people in Texas, then Republicans’ plans to eliminate DACA, and now many more people facing the ravages of Hurricane Irma. All of this while we’re still reeling from the pain of Charlottesville and the many other racist actions playing out in this country every day.
Our hearts may be broken, but all of us are needed now. To be beacons of a new world, to lead and guide our society to a new universal that centers those who’ve been silenced and pushed to the edges by a privileged few.
It is not that we can’t feel during these times. In fact, we must use the deep pain that hovers just beneath the surface of our fear as the fuel for a compassionate and bold leadership. At times, I feel weak and small compared to the challenges we are facing. And yet, when I envision all of the Rockwood alums and other bold leaders out there in the throes of catastrophic crises — leading against the winds of hatred, bigotry, and profound disruption democracy — I find the strength to lead from a place of love and power.
It has never been clearer than now how much we need each other. Not just to look to and lean on, but also to step up and lead. It is going to take all of us harnessing our innate leadership — whether it’s “official” or not — to face the challenges ahead.
I am here today. We are here today. Our hearts are full, we are emboldened to do our work, and we are committed to practicing collective personal ecology and resilience. We are steeped in practice, determined not to be moved off our center or focus.
We lead on. We know that the status quo does not nourish liberation or equity. We know we must shift the current climate of hatred and separation in this country to one of love, compassion, and equanimity shared by all.
The thousands of people on the ground, defending DACA, ensuring safety and security in the face of devastating storms and fires, strengthening the democratic ideals so many of us have had the privilege to believe are the norm: you are my strength and my guides. Whether you are or aren’t an “official” leader, whether you are or aren’t a Rockwood alum, we honor you and hold you in our hearts as you carry us forward.
Let us not back away, stay quiet, or be numb. Let us lead from our values of freedom and inclusion today so that tomorrow’s horizon may be bright, equitable, and sustainable for all.