“What do you think is going to happen?”
I must have heard this 50 or more times since it happened.
After a brutal election cycle, I – like millions of Americans – spent my November 9 feeling overwhelmed by a swirling and full range of emotions. Nothing about this week, and now, is straightforward.
The world we live in is complicated. In spite of what Facebook shows us in our news feeds, there are numerous ways to think and feel about the things that happen in our lives. We don’t always agree with each other. We alternate between decisions made too fast or too slow. We get things right and wrong. History has shown us that. But we also have moments that make us more human to each other, when we can display grace and compassion. Unfortunately, those moments are usually in times of great challenge or tragedy. I wish it were different.
I wish that I didn’t feel the way I did on election night. But I did.
I wish that I would have woken up to the first female President in the history of our country (though imperfect), realizing the dream that so many parents have had for their daughters. That my parents told me about all the time growing up. But I didn’t.
Yesterday morning, I read a piece written in the character of Leslie Knope. Leslie, in many ways, is my spirit animal. She’s a woman who in the face of incompetence and small town small-mindedness, never gives up. She never stops trying. She never stops working for what is right, good, and just. She’s the superhero we need when the world is maddening. Like it is at this very moment.
I read her letter twice. First, silently to myself at my desk at work, as I sat still processing how unpredictable life can be. Her words reassured me. I felt, for just a moment, that I could breathe again. Later, I read it out loud to my husband (another Parks & Rec fan) as we watched Netflix together, as he was curious to know what she had said on the matter. Her words, read aloud, suddenly meant more. I heard it anew in my own voice and had bright moment of recognition. This is all of us now. We can speak our truths aloud and make something happen with them.
Today, I’m writing this from Marywood University’s campus. I’m here to speak at the Entrepreneurial Institute, put on by the amazing team at TecBridge. I’ll be talking about how to find your battle cry: the unifying big idea that drives action in organizations, tells your customers what to expect, and anchors what you do.
I feel good being here. No, I feel great being here. I’m surrounded by people who have the desire to make change in the world. Who want to do more. Who ache for the opportunity to take risks, fail, and most importantly, succeed. I’m also surrounded by members of the Marywood University community who have always made me feel at home and like I belong.
I’m in an environment where – as our University President said in her opening remarks – dignity, service, and justice are “big time.”
We should be thinking about our own battle cries for the future. What will we do to take action? How will we move forward? What can we do to preserve and advance the big time ideals of dignity, service, and justice?
I know for me, I’ll continue working on the things I care about most. I’ll teach, perform, serve, strive, and organize. I’ll have meaningful dialogue. I’ll be respectful. I’ll be kind. I’ll take care of my family. I’ll continue to be a proud woman and member of my community. I won’t accept anything less than what I deserve. I’ll keep moving.
I take great comfort in that. Just for today, I have the opportunity to keep moving.