“Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe.”
-The Honorable John Lewis
The Honorable John Lewis, laid to rest this week after more than 60 years of civil rights work in our country, has left a powerful legacy while proving that ordinary citizens can indeed become genuine heroes. By any measure, Congressman Lewis made extraordinary contributions to our country. John Lewis — among the first to engage in a lunch counter sit-in, one of the first Freedom Riders, a leader within the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the youngest speaker at the March on Washington, the leader of the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, and Member of Congress for more than 33 years — found his calling when, as a teenager, he heard Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the radio, preaching about the struggle of Black people in a segregated America. Dr. King’s voice spoke to him and he latched onto the idea that nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience were the means to change laws, hearts, minds, nations, and the world.
John Lewis heeded Dr. King’s call and made the pursuit of racial equity and social justice his life’s work. He valued equal rights and understood that courage and perseverance were necessary to drive lasting social change. In the last weeks of his life, he penned an essay that expressed optimism that although the quest for racial justice was not fully realized during his lifetime, that this next generation was ably picking up the mantle of leadership in this moment of racial unrest.
His message endures,
“If you don’t do everything you can to change things, then they will remain the same. You only pass this way once. You have to give it all you have.”
If you haven’t already heard his final thoughts, you can read or listen to them here.
What I’m Believing: The Moment Is Now
Amidst all that has happened in 2020 to turn our world upside down, I believe that we are living in extraordinary times. There is no time like the present to know that, while our days on Earth are indeed finite, we each have the power to make a significant difference.“What are you called to do in this moment?” is a question that I pose to my clients as we embark on a journey together toward meaningful engagement in one’s life and community. But what happens if you don’t hear the call?
A global pandemic has elevated the cause of public health, food and housing insecurity, and economic sustainability. The pandemic and the call for racial justice highlighted systemic oppression and racism in our country. These moments of unrest have also enabled people to see more clearly the inequities facing women, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, and other marginalized communities. While many of us have yet to crystallize the specific purpose of our own life, we can achieve clarity when we cut through the noise, develop a process to uncover our values and strengths, and prioritize the pressing issues to solve with a variety of pathways for active engagement.
“To refuse to participate in the shaping of our future is to give it up.
Do not be misled into passivity either by false security (they don’t mean me) or
by despair (there’s nothing we can do). Each of us must find our work and do it.”
What I’m Admiring: MacKenzie Scott Invests in Equity
This week, MacKenzie Scott, a woman of extraordinary wealth, made $1.7 billion worth of transformational gifts to more than 116 nonprofit organizations. Her focus on quality and authentic leadership of the organizations reflects her fundamental belief that people who have lived experience with inequities are the ones best equipped to design solutions. She has paid the grants in full without restrictions. Read more here
“What fills me with hope is the thought of what will come
if each of us reflects on what we can offer.”
What I’m Practicing: Engaging Beyond the Dollars
I recognize that I have presented two extreme examples of pathways for engagement. John Lewis had been an activist and an elected official on the national stage for more than half a century and MacKenzie Scott is listed in Forbes as America’s wealthiest woman. However, we each have the ability to first look inward and then see outside ourselves to make an impact in a way that is uniquely us. When we listen in earnest for our call, we realize that there are many ways to make a contribution, no matter how modest, towards a better future. Read here for ideas about going beyond the dollars to make your mark on the world. Take the opportunity to reflect on who you are and what you have to offer.
“Find your voice. Inspire others to find theirs.
Don’t ignore that longing to make a difference.”
Finding Your Voice in Philanthropy
I work with people as they actively engage generations of their family in philanthropic activities. Together, we work to crystalize their values, magnify their voices and create a vision for meaningful philanthropic engagement and impact.
Click here to learn more and begin a conversation.