I write today about the persistence of suffering, violence, and hate in our city, our country, and our world. In this time of widespread human suffering, I want to let you know that each and every one of you is on our minds.
If you or your loved ones are mourning or reliving trauma as you mark the one-year anniversary of the death of George Floyd, you are on our minds. If you are Israeli or Palestinian and have family living in the Gaza strip, or if you are especially worried about the rise of anti-Semitism and Islamaphobia, you are on our minds. If you have family living in India, Latin America, or other countries where Covid-19 is surging, you are on our minds. If you or your loved ones are experiencing food or housing insecurity, coping with loss of income or livelihood, grieving for loved ones, or struggling with physical or mental health issues, you are on our minds. If you are bearing witness to the continued violence and hate targeted at Black, Brown, Islamic, Jewish, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, those identifying as LGBTQIA, and anyone who suffers because of an affiliation with a marginalized identity, you are on our minds.
No one should ever be the target of violence or hate because of who they are. At Hewitt, we are guided by our mission, values, and diversity and inclusivity statement as we unequivocally condemn all forms of hate, bigotry, and violence.
When I am in need of some time and space to think or meditate, I often climb to the top of Cedar Hill in Central Park to visit Gloria Steinem’s bench. When she was presented with the bench, Steinem, true to form, used the opportunity to elevate another woman whose voice she felt was deserving of amplification, Sojourner Truth. The dedication plaque on the bench reads: “In celebration of the 80th birthday of the Women’s Movement organizer, the great Gloria Steinem and in honor of her hero, Sojourner Truth (1797-1883), who understood that equality includes everyone or no one.”
Equality includes everyone or no one. This is a truism that guides our work at Hewitt. Yet if we are to fully realize the words of our mission and forge a more “equitable future,” then we must work together, and stick together, building on our shared mutual interests, rather than inciting division. Our experiences are different, and we must always try to see, respect, and honor those differences even as we assert that our freedom, our fates, and our prosperity are tied to each other. It is only when we stick together through divisive times that we are able to transcend our own suffering and participate in the collective endeavor of building that “more perfect union” towards which this country is always in the process of becoming. In the words of Margaret Wheatley’s “Turning to One Another”:
There is no power greater than a community discovering what it cares about.
Ask: “What’s possible?” not “What’s wrong?” Keep asking.
Notice what you care about. Assume that many others share your dreams.
Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.
Talk to people you know. Talk to people you don’t know. Talk to people you never talk to.
Be intrigued by the differences you hear.
Expect to be surprised.
Treasure curiosity more than certainty.
Invite in everybody who cares to work on what’s possible.
Acknowledge that everyone is an expert about something.
Know that creative solutions come from new connections.
Remember, you don’t fear people whose story you know.
Real listening always brings people closer together.
Trust that meaningful conversations can change your world.
Rely on human goodness.
At Hewitt, we believe that “real listening always brings people closer together,” that there is great strength in our diversity, and that “meaningful conversations can change your world.” To this end, we will continue to gather with members of our community to process what is happening in our world, to hear one another’s stories, and to remind us all that our school’s mission, values, and diversity and inclusivity statement are our best guides for these conversations.
As we near the end of the school year, I am enormously proud of how we at Hewitt have stuck together through divisive times. For if we teach our children nothing else, let us teach them that we are stronger together, and that love is always stronger than hate.
Dr. Kinsey shared this message with the Hewitt community on May 25, 2021.