My new mantra for 2018.
I didn’t start the year thinking this, but I read it while studying our school’s leadership program, the Leader in Me, and it really resonated with me. It’s so easy to think that we can’t make a big impact whether through work, politics, or anything in life.
But then I think of people like the teenagers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, who took a tragic, life-changing experience and turned it into an opportunity to promote change.
I think about all the women who participated in the women’s march, leading to hundreds of victims coming forward and speaking out against male misconduct.
I think about artists like Kendrick Lamar and Childish Gambino who are speaking out against the racism and gun violence in our country and the raw truth about our current reality.
And finally, I think about the hardworking and caring teachers who are making their voices heard across the country.
There’s no doubt that the past couple years have been full of hardship and tragedy: school shootings on the rise, stricter immigration laws tearing apart families, a president and government making scarier choices each day. But when I watch all these people, often ordinary people, stand up and make their voices heard, I can’t help but think…
What a time to be alive.
I’ve never been more involved in politics than I am now. I have never felt more informed and more inspired to promote change that I do right now. I have marched in the Women’s March. I have donated to causes trying to stop gun violence. I have spoken out on issues I feel passionate about. I have found my voice.
Most recently, I feel extremely fortunate that I was able to be a part of the teacher walkout in North Carolina this past Wednesday. There is nothing more inspiring and uplifting than seeing people gather for a cause they strongly believe in. There were teachers from all over the state who drove hours to participate in this moment and demand change from their legislators. There were businesses in Raleigh showing their support through various signs and contributions. There were families on the sidelines cheering for teachers and hoping for change.
It was beautiful.
Before I committed to the teacher rally last week, I talked to a friend and expressed my concerns about going, since it was a 10 hour drive and my life has been pretty busy recently. As I said, “I’m not sure if I’m going yet,” she said something that still sticks with me, “But, what if everybody felt that way?”
I had an opportunity to be apart of something bigger than myself. I had the chance to have my voice heard. I had the means and time to promote change, how could I not take advantage of this moment?
The following day, when I arrived back at school, I was gushing with excitement. I didn’t let my exhaustion hold me back as I showed my 6 and 7 year old students pictures from the protest. I explained our reasons for marching and the importance for standing up for what you believe in. Their eyes glowed as they watched videos of our governor speaking and saw aerial footage from the day. They asked questions and wondered about the future changes that will affect their public school experience. They beamed as they looked at pictures of their teacher and other teachers at their school. They were inspired. They were proud.
I have a coworker who loves to remind her students that “You’re never too young to change the world.” I have to say, she couldn’t be more right.