“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” -E.E. Cummings
Isn’t it interesting the things we choose to remember in our lives? For instance, one of my earliest memories of school was in kindergarten, happily coloring away with a green crayon, only to look up and realize everyone else had followed the direction and used red. The teacher scolded me for not doing as the others had. When I think of it now, I chuckle. There has always been a little “color outside the box” in my nature. At the time, I felt diminished as if I failed. Even though years later I went on to graduate at the top of my class, that idea stuck with me. Nevertheless, she persisted!
Growing up in a large family, we were always trying to measure up to the older siblings. It was as if your very survival depended on differentiation and achievement. My Perseverance developed in each accomplishment, and thus, I dreamed big dreams. The belief that I could become anything I put my heart and mind to was a core component of that drive. Each of us has a natural gift of wonder and having a trusting space to step out is essential to revealing our purpose.
One of the challenges of our time is the institutions we were taught to trust are undergoing a metamorphosis, and this energy can create a lot of insecurity in each of us. We aren’t sure if you can believe someone’s word, in the organizations that use to be the backbone of society, or worse, in our self-knowing. Are we getting the full story? Where is the information coming from that we read? What’s the motive? Who is behind any agenda? We are afraid to speak out because of what might happen next. Why step out of line and be called out? We are inundated with information and not quite sure what is fact and what is fiction. In a world of questions, the Civil Grace of Perseverance is what can give us hope that we can rise above it all no matter what it is as long as we put our minds to it.
We have every resource in this country to make things happen: brilliant people, money, natural resources, ideas, and the freedom to do it. We could solve every significant crisis and issue. The problem is that the emphasis is on the wrong thing–the focus is on the money and not the people. Why is this a problem? Because it isn’t always just about the economy. It is about making a world where all can thrive. Because in our political process when candidates have to bend every which way to raise funds to feed the consultants recommended by the leadership ecosystem, they fill their pockets full of dollars, which equal promises to those who put them there. If those dollars come from special interests and corporations, they want a return on their investment. Those “contributions” equate to influence and votes, which is why we don’t see sensible legislation on almost any area you can imagine. Think about it–we are the wealthiest nation in the world. We have the resources to have the best education, health care, quality of life, inventions, and economy but instead, we have a process that pits one side against another all in the name of winning. Who loses? The American people do…all of us.
So this is a very disappointing story so far if we are considering what we can do. Why have any hope at all? I will tell you why. “We the People” are the actual power in this country. We just have lost sight of that fact because the emphasis is on dividing us. We have forgotten that we can make a change in our country when things aren’t working. Our elected officials are supposed to hold this power in trust with us. It is okay to color outside the box and try new things. Innovation is at our core! We are living through a historical moment, and Persevering together will be critical.
Perseverance comes from the Latin word perseverantia which means steadfastness, constancy. When we hold steadfast to the ideals that connect us, we find our truth and our hope again. Perseverance is a Civil Grace because it is those self-evident truths that form the foundation of our nation and our individual lives. It is the belief that all are created equal and have gifts to bring forth to make a more perfect union. We have to take the energy we are placing in fighting for dying institutions and start to focus it on the core of what made this nation so incredible–the belief that the people had the power to self-govern and the ability to dream new dreams. We are not divided; we are diverse. It is this diversity that gives us all the options to find the solutions to the questions we are asking. It is with continuing to stand with each other that we will change the world for the better.
I recently was sent a quote by a friend that read, “those who tried to bury you didn’t realize you were a seed.” The pressures we feel in our world today are there for a reason. Each of us is being asked to look again and see how we can bring our genius forth. What’s your Big Idea? Every one of us has something to offer, and it is why my husband and I created the “Little Barn of Big Ideas” on our farm–a space for everyone to bring forth their big ideas and help them grow. It is up to each of us to think differently than what we are always being told. The most powerful thing we can do is ask questions and listen to one another. To not buy into this notion that we are against one another, but rather we are stronger together.
The lessons of life don’t always make sense immediately. It takes time for the path to reveal itself. Each of us has had moments that shaped our view of the world. Your story and your ideas are needed more than ever. I invite you to consider the Civil Grace Perseverance to be your companion on the journey so you may rekindle your curiosity, hope in your abilities, belief in a better world, and the willingness to work with all of us to make it happen.
photo credit: Vince Moro, Washington, DC