By Sarah R. Johnson
We are desperate for a new story, a promising narrative, words of encouragement grounded in our history of tenacity, strength, and determination. As Americans we are a people of courage, possibility, and hope. It’s in our family stories, in our DNA, and it’s still very much in each and everyone of us, yet it feels hidden deep within and difficult to find at times.
Today we are brought down by fear, uncertainty, confusion, disbelief, oppression, and overall lack of confidence in the leadership we are lead by. Depending on the day and issue this lack of leadership shows up in all of our institutions: schools, religious organizations, government at every level, and sometimes even in our own families. We are becoming victims instead of warriors.
Instead of our kids being told to believe that they must go back to school in order to survive (and put everyone at risk of contracting COVID-19), why aren’t we teaching our kids tools of resiliency, courage, and patience? What if the message to our kids is that they are strong, confident, and brave. They are going to live through this and be stronger for it. Could this time be an opportunity to teach our children a tremendous life skill that they can hold on to forever? I’m starting to wonder why this hasn’t been the message all along.
Wisdom leaders are among us. Many are in senior living centers where visitation is nearly impossible during a pandemic. Yet, they are here and have a lot to teach the rest of us. My 100 year old grandmother, a public health nurse lived through world wars, economic depressions, nuclear war, the polio epidemic, civil rights movement, and loss of many people and many disappointments along the way. Life is a series of losses and always has been; yet one has to keep stepping forward, knowing that this world is a place of possibility and opportunity. Each and every person was put on this earth to make an impact, yet if people stop seeing the possibility, they begin to lose belief in their purpose and their hope.
How is it that we have so quickly forgotten where we come from? As Americans, we are the children of immigrants. We are the children of brave, courageous people who risked everything for something better. I believe we need to remember and listen to the wisdom from our family stories, our elders, our community history to help us see through the increasing noise of this current circumstance. The noise has gotten so loud we are collectively forgetting one of the most important things our elders can teach us; that we are resilient people of courage, possibility, and hope who must be patient. We must be patient to overcome this time of trial and inconvenience; loss and missed experiences; pain and grief. We must commit to the long view and know that we are becoming who we need to be today, to have the courage to continue to take one step, and then another, and then another.
As the days get shorter, leaves have fallen, and winter storms begin to bring much needed moisture to the southern Rocky Mountains I sit alone with a cup of tea and reflect on my thoughts and noticings. I consider my role in education, in my community, and in this moment in time. This is the first of many pieces to come of pondering and writing as a way to share my truth in this moment of time. - Sarah