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Charting the seasons

I’ve been writing letters more and more these days, and I think it’s one of the most wonderful ways to share thoughts and ideas. Here are a few excerpts from a letter I sent friends on Sunday, to mark the first day of July, my half birthday, and the second half of the year.

… when I was a child I went to a camp in southern Indiana’s gently rolling hills. On Sunday mornings Fred, the weathered patriarch, would lead us – dozens of girls between 8-12 years old – into an old pine grove, where we would sit on the roots and fallen pine needles, quietly communing with nature. He called the pine boughs above his cathedral, and I knew, even as a young girl, that I was sitting with someone who was deeply in tune with the world around him. I’ve made changes in my life over the past year to more closely become that kind of person, and each change successfully made has been thanks to the loving kindness and support of each of you.

My personal changes take place within a much grander context. The systems humankind built in the 20th century are outdated, failing or undergoing disruption. We’ve all seen this firsthand, from the way debt and unemployment cripple the human spirit, to the way that our “always on” technology can lead us to feel overwhelmed. Extreme weather patterns remind us we are experiencing massive shifts to our climate directly caused by overconsumption and disregard for the environment. From New York City to Syria, people face incarceration, arrest or murder for being born the wrong color, the wrong religion, the wrong gender, the wrong class, or having the audacity to demand participation in the systems that govern their daily lives. We live in a world where patterns of oppression and violence are repeated, and trauma is passed from one generation to the next. There is no shortage of causes to support because there is no shortage of problems that need fixing.

And yet. And yet. Despite all the reasons for despair, despite the heartbreaking and gutwrenching stories, there is hope. Hope because the nonviolent tradition of Gandhi and Martin Luther King continues to demonstrate its enduring power from Yangon to Tahrir Square to Wall Street. Hope because across our communities, people are creating and building alternatives to the broken systems.

I feel surrounded by people who live & breathe collaboration, who truly care for themselves and their loved ones, and let’s be real, that is the non-negotiable foundation for doing right in the world. I feel grateful to have a group of friends for whom one person’s victory is not another’s defeat. Who commit themselves on a daily basis to positivity, despite the odds. Who embody the best of human characteristics: compassion, honesty, curiosity, ingenuity, integrity. We’re all human so we all make mistakes, but we accept them with humility, and we keep getting up, every day, to remake the world.

Here’s to that beautiful world we are making, each & every day.

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