A Message From The President

May 2023

Knock on the wrong door and get shot.  Turn into the wrong driveway and be fatally shot. Mistake a car for your own and get shot.  Attempt to retrieve your basketball from a neighbor’s yard and get shot.

Pass legislation that further limits reproductive rights.  Challenge access to the abortion medication mifepristone.  Expand the “Don’t Say Gay” law to ban classroom instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity in all grades.  Make it a felony to provide gender-affirming health care to transgender minors.

Fire educators who teach “woke concepts” such as inclusion and systemic and structural racism.  Ban books that accurately reflect all of us and our history of race in America – the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Retaliate against corporations, organizations, and individuals for speaking up and out on pivotal social issues.

I could go on, but I won’t because gun violence, culture wars, book banning, and marginalizing those who are already at a disadvantage are not new.  But, from my perspective, what is new is the frequency, intensity, and normalization of the terror, hurt, and pain being inflicted and experienced.  We barely have time to absorb the shock and repercussions of a violent, authoritarian, bigoted, or misguided action before another occurs.

These events of the last month alone give me pause and Amanda Gorman’s “Hymn for the Hurting,” written after the Uvalde elementary mass shooting in 2022, continues to resonate with me.

Everything hurts,
Our hearts shadowed and strange,
Minds made muddied and mute.
We carry tragedy, terrifying and true.
And yet none of it is new;
We knew it as home,
As horror,
As heritage.
Even our children
Cannot be children,
Cannot be.

Everything hurts.
It’s a hard time to be alive,
And even harder to stay that way.
We’re burdened to live out these days,
While at the same time, blessed to outlive them.

This alarm is how we know
We must be altered —
That we must differ or die,
That we must triumph or try.
Thus while hate cannot be terminated,
It can be transformed
Into a love that lets us live.

May we not just grieve, but give:
May we not just ache, but act;
May our signed right to bear arms
Never blind our sight from shared harm;
May we choose our children over chaos.
May another innocent never be lost.

Maybe everything hurts,
Our hearts shadowed & strange.
But only when everything hurts
May everything change.

I don’t profess to knowing where our society is on the continuum of pain and hurt, but I do fear we are becoming numb and feeling the hurt less and less of each tragedy and terror that occurs.  By no means am I encouraging acts that cause hurt, but if hurting denotes our caring and as Amanda Gorman states change only comes when everything hurts, then let hurt be our mustard seed that produces change — for we are in need of change.

We must all give, act, and serve as a vessel of change.