The dust has not entirely settled, but enough of it has fallen to the ground so that Katie and I can see through it now. Every now and again, a speck will float into our eyes, but, all told, the future and the present are both much brighter than they were a couple of weeks ago. In fact, things are brighter than they have been in a very long time.
How can things be so bright in such surreal, difficult times?
The students! The students who are using their voices for something in which they believe, the students who realize their strength, the students who are coming together and realizing that we are all one in this thing called, “life.”
The outpouring of support from students – past & present – and from families – past & present – has been overwhelming to say the least. That’s why things are so bright – so significant.
It is nothing short of humbling that the cause over which these students and families are forging new relationships is that of this current situation. I hope all of you know that Katie and I love you dearly, and appreciate every single thing you have done – from peaceful acts of protest to petitioning to calling in on radio shows in support of us. Wow. You have always, and continue to, impress and inspire me.
Seeing a picture of a student who used to volunteer with me at ReSTOC when he was at Moeller years ago standing next to a young woman who serves as the school leader at Purcell Marian is nothing short of beautiful. Please know this, all of you – YOU are the change – YOU are the future. When the youth begin to make their voices heard, people listen. This is the way it has always been. Just please – always be peaceful, respectful and loving (as you have been – which makes this former teacher so proud). A great man once said, “love your neighbor.” That is some awesome advice. That same man once said, “love your enemy.” Now, that one is a bit trickier, but in love we come to see our “enemies” as people – and when we begin to see them as people and not the “other,” we begin to realize that they, too, have beliefs that they think are making the world a better place. When we realize these things we can begin to have conversation that has the potential to change the city, the state, and even the nation.
One last thing that the teacher in me needs to get out – always remember that actions taken that do not produce the desired results are NOT actions made in vain. No, if those actions are born out of a spiritual and just place, then they are right. Results are not always synonymous with justice, integrity and/or victory.
I will let Vaclav Havel sum up this idea much more eloquently than I can. For those of you who do not know who Havel was, he helped to lead the Velvet Revolution from a jail cell in Communist Czechoslovakia. After the power was given back to the Czech people (many of whom were dissatisfied with the fact that the Communists would not let them practice their Catholic faith), Havel served as President of the Czech Republic. His early life was spent as an essayist, playwright and poet.
Havel had this to say about public acts of civil disobedience and the actions of dissidents:
“The kind of hope I often think about I understand above all else as a state of mind, not a state of the world. Either we have hope within us or we don’t; it is a dimension of the soul; it’s not essentially dependent on some particular observation of the world or estimate of the situation. Hope is not prognostication. It is an orientation of the spirit, an orientation of the heart; it transcends the world that is immediately experienced, and is anchored somewhere beyond its horizons. Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously headed for early success, but, rather, an ability to work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed. . .Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. . .I think that the deepest and most important form of hope, the only one that can keep us above water and urge us to good works, and the only true source of the breathtaking dimension of the human spirit and its efforts, is something we get, as it where, from ‘elsewhere.’ It is also this hope, above all, which gives us the strength to live and continually try new things, even in conditions that seem as hopeless as ours do, here and now.”
The focus, according to Havel, should be on HOPE, not optimism. Hope will make you strong, even when you do not see the results you are seeking.
This is not, and has never been, about changing Rome’s stance on marriage equality. It IS very much about the Church hierarchy listening to the Wisdom of its people – it IS very much about encouraging the Church to recognize Civil Unions – it IS very much about allowing the youth to have their voice be heard. . .even if they don’t get the change for which they are desperately fighting.
So, when the dust settles, this is what I see.
I see the youth and the young adult taking a stand. I see them – black, white, rich, poor, gay, straight – unifying for something they believe; desperately trying to let those they respect in positions of authority know that the world THEY live in is not the same world in which their authority lives.
When the dust settles, I see a future that is bright with possibilities and a ground that is firm with all of the fallen, solidified dust particles. A future in which people are allowed to be who they are as long as they are not hurting anyone else. A future where homosexual teenagers do not feel as if there is something “wrong” with them. A future where ALL teenagers do not feel as if there is something “wrong” with them. A future where all PEOPLE do not feel as if there is something “wrong” with them.
The dust has not fully settled, and it never will – which isn’t so bad, because every time one of those specks lands in my eye, it reminds me that there is still much more work to be done.