A dear, wise friend of mine recently observed that we are in a time of cascading crises. There are issues impacting the lives of every one of us, around the world and right here at home. Often these difficulties are tied one another, resulting in compounded problems for individuals, families and communities who do their best to cope. While the list of challenges could stretch on and on, two of the most visible right now are the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for greater social justice.
The novel corona virus brings us face-to-face with our attitudes and behaviors, and those of the people around us. It is impacting nearly everything about our lives, and it is very, very difficult time. For me, it is a chance to test a statement I've long subscribed to: We are able to handle everything that comes our way in life, but we will be tested to our very limits. During our growth mindset focus last school year, we learned how to move beyond where we think our limits are, and that we do well to accept ourselves with compassion during the sometimes painful growth process. I am grateful that we spent time with growth mindset last year, and hope we are accessing the skills we practiced during this trying time.
Our times are also tense because of renewed intensity around issues of social justice. Every person in our country has an opportunity to learn about social justice at an age- and developmentally- appropriate level. Furthermore, each individual has the capacity to make choices about their thoughts, words and actions on issues of social justice, such as gender, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity, religion, economic status and many others. We can shape a world which is compassionate, helpful, and interesting in its diversity by engaging with genuine curiosity and an open mind. At Horace Mann, we look forward to bringing these issues forth as part of our learning this year, and welcome suggestions and feedback.
For inspiration, I'll close with a quotation from the late Congressman from Georgia, Representative John Lewis. He said, "You are a light. You are the light. Never let anyone - any person or force - dampen, dim, or diminish your light. Study the path of others to make your way easier and more abundant. Lean toward the whispers of your own heart, discover the universal truth, and follow its dictates...Release the need to hate, or harbor division, and the enticement of revenge. Release all bitterness. Hold only love, only peace in your heart, knowing that the battle of good to overcome evil is already won. Choose confrontation wisely, but when it is your time, don't be afraid to stand up, speak up, and speak out against injustice. And if you follow your truth down the road to peace and the affirmation of love, if you shine like a beacon for all to see, then the poetry of all the great dreamers and philosophers is yours to manifest in a nation, a world community, and a Beloved Community that is finally at peace with itself."
With warmest regards,
Dr. Merritt F. Waters
Principal, Horace Mann Elementary School