“We cannot expect to change what’s in the world unless we first awaken what lies deeply within.” -Dr. Tererai Trent
“Is this America?” That is the question that has been posed to us in the impeachment trial this week, and it is an essential question. As much as it falls on the shoulders of our elected leaders, it lands upon each of us to answer that question. What does it mean to be an American, to live in America…what does our country stand for today? Are we willing to stand up to live what we answer?
I am grateful to have been born in a space and time where change is possible. Along with working on my dreams and goals, I carry a quote my dad often said: “to whom much is given, much is required in return.” There was always a sense that we needed to give back and serve the larger whole. There are too many examples that would make one hang their head low today. We have definitely witnessed our shadow side in the last few years. It is easy to look outside to what is happening around us and shake our heads. It is easy to blame our pain on someone or something else. In a culture of lies and soundbites, it is easy to pass the buck. We have significant challenges in this nation, but I believe it is time to look in the mirror and decide that the “buck stops here.”
From the beginning, The Civil Graces Project challenged that division is a choice, not a given in America. We can disagree and have diverse ways to see the world, but the minute we claim the excuse of a divided nation, it takes us off the hook. America is not a nation for people who want to sit on the sidelines, and it isn’t a place where anything is a given. We are a massive collection of diversity in ideas, experiences, and visions. We each fall on different points of that spectrum, and the beauty is realizing that we are always reinventing ourselves. That is what America is–it is the people. We, the People are who come together every day to establish a more perfect union.
But the work of the people is up to the people. It is time for once and all for us to recognize and explore the beauty of who we are. We are not one race, creed, sex, orientation, religion, age or ability. We have different interests, work in different ways, have different experiences that have brought us this way. The image of America being this homogenous place has mostly been a lie. We are diverse, and that is our strength. Our diversity has been used to single us out and divide all too often. But in reality, if we see our diversity as the gift that it is, our options are endless. It is time we dedicate our purpose and our mission as a nation to living up to the ideals we hold self-evident.
That work starts with every one of us doing the work on ourselves to explore the opportunities, dream big dreams, and do the job to lift ourselves and our communities forward. That is America. We have been engaged in an ongoing struggle to redefine what it means to be a citizen, and those who want to push us back are wasting their time. They are missing an opportunity to be involved in the most remarkable expansion of human innovation and ideas. They allow fear to hold them in a world that is a myth. They try to hold back the sheer energy of this country, and in the end, they lose. America’s strength comes from our willingness to become all that we can to create a life of contribution, meaning, and purpose. Our lives are woven into each other by the fact that we share in building and telling the story.
We see the damage that happens when fear and hatred rear up and the scars they leave behind. We have to hold those who threaten our rule of law accountable because for democracy to survive, all are equal before the law. We have to recognize again that the tremendous advances we have made in this country came from people of all walks of life. It was by pushing through boundaries and limitations that we move forward.
As I write this, I know many people are scared and suffering. This has been a tough time in so many ways: the images and things we see and hear cause such distrust. The idea of division makes us pick a side and find the other side wrong, outrageous, and evil. While there are definitely actions of danger and destruction, most of us work to create a life of meaning, prosperity, and freedom. I still believe in what we can create together. It starts with getting into the core of who we each are and asking, “how may I serve?” But the bigger question is…are we willing?
If you are willing, The Civil Graces Project offers thoughts on how to bring this to life every day: Hospitality, Courage, Confidence, Generosity, Freedom, Humility, Equality, Attitude, Awareness, Respect, Gratitude, Responsibility, Justice, Forgiveness, Inspiration, Compassion, Integrity, Vulnerability, Patience, and Perseverance. Pick one or a few, and get started. Connect with your heart to explore what your purpose could be right where you are, and then go connect with others in that space. We have such an incredible moment. Are we willing?
Photo credit: Vince Moro window by the Brandywine River