Every year, we in the Northern Hemisphere experience the winter solstice, the longest night of the year. But this December, winter’s darkness seems to me more like a metaphor. For I feel darkness when I consider how our society continues to struggle with division, inequality, silence, and the abuse of power.
Yet when times are dark, sunshine is the best disinfectant. When we throw light on injustice, we see the world with a fresh pair of eyes. With that wider lens and perspective, we are moved to act with the power of light and love. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Our mission at Hewitt is to empower every girl to tune into her inner voice, not only so that she has a voice but also so that she uses it and stands for what is good and right in the world. As novelist Angie Thomas asks: “What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?” At Hewitt, everywhere I turn, I see teachers, students, staff, parents, trustees, and alumnae unified by the same vision of a world where girls grow up knowing that their voice is their power; where women have agency over their lives, their careers, and their bodies; where women have the confidence to stand up for themselves and for those who cannot do so on their own.
At Hewitt, we embrace what civil rights advocate and legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw calls an “enlightened use of power.” Enlightened. Power fueled by light and love. Power that roots out darkness and injustice. I am talking about the kind of enlightened power that drives a Hewitt girl to spend hour after hour, night after night, in our innovation lab, soldering, coding, building, and honing her craft, because, one day, she wants to design and build products that will improve the lives of others. I am talking about the kind of enlightened power that motivates a Hewitt girl to spend a year studying abroad in China not just to get out of her comfort zone and learn a new language, but because she is troubled by the fact that so few Americans speak the language of one-fifth of the world’s population, and one day, she wants to be “at the table” affecting positive change in U.S.-China relations. I am talking about the kind of enlightened power that inspires a Hewitt girl to delay the much-anticipated start of college and take a gap year abroad to study Arabic because she is concerned about the conflict between the West and the Middle East, and she wants her life to be a part of the solution.
In this dark season, may we take inspiration from these young women of Hewitt, who remind us that we are a community enlightened by optimism and purpose, by love and nourishing light.
Dr. Kinsey delivered these remarks at Hewitt's 2017 winter concerts.