You may already know this, but one of my favorite authors is JRR Tolkien. For years I re-read his books and later found joy in the movies that capture the heart and spirit of the Fellowship of the Ring. Like Frodo, I am standing on the shores of Middle Earth, about to say goodbye to my people. We have been on an amazing adventure as a fellowship in our pursuit of four goals: To Close Gaps, Grow People, Influence Change, and Eradicate Racism. These goals are more than words; they are the heart and soul of an organization and, I hope, a region. We can only achieve them by working in community and sharing in an adventure of continual growth.
We live in interesting times. Differences of opinion seem to produce feelings of enmity rather than a desire to understand and empathize. I am saddened that diversity of thought and challenging the status quo tends to raise a desire to condemn and crush ‘enemies’ instead of finding common ground. Like Mahatma Gandhi, “I object to violence because, when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.” Non-violence does not mean we have to accept injustice. We must see the systemic injustices in the world around us and first respond by looking within; ourselves and our organizations. It is not ok to point out the splinter in the eyes of others when we have logs in our own.
The Capital Region ESD 113 has started on a path of internal reflection and intentional change. Our teams are reflecting on our internal equity audit and developing projects to respond to our gaps. I encourage others to enter into a similar journey. Within a fellowship of authenticity, we are growing as people. I believe through our investment in relationships with leaders across the region, we have begun to influence change. And, while the Mount Doom of racism must be torn down, it will not come about by tossing a ring into the abyss. We will only see success if we walk the road together and lift each other up when we stumble.
“The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with weary feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.”