My plan this week was to write a follow-up to Ben’s post from a few weeks back, “Relationships are where it’s at!” Then I watched President Obama’s eulogy for John Lewis.
“If you don’t do everything you can do to change things… then they will remain the same.” -John Lewis
After watching, I reflected on the conversations I have been having with my two young-adult sons over the past couple of months. I also thought about this work we are all so fortunate to do here in the social impact sector. Life-changing, life-saving work that matters.
The first time I heard President Obama speak was when he was running in the primary for Illinois Senate. It was at a time when I was contemplating a career change. One that eventually led to my first non-profit job. The words he spoke that evening that hit me square and have resonated with me since… “We can do better.”
And then, this week, as I was watching him offer his eulogy for John Lewis, he said this:
“Ordinary people can come together… to decide it is in our power to remake this country that we love, until it more closely aligns with our highest ideals. What a radical idea. That any of us ordinary people can stand up to the powers and principalities and say no – this isn’t right, this isn’t true, this isn’t just.“We can do better.”
I am well aware, because I see it on a first-hand basis day in and day out, that the people who work at and volunteer with the tremendous non-profit organizations in each one of our communities are committed to making a difference. And some of those organizations, thankfully, carry on aspects of Congressman Lewis’ life’s work. But as I was reflecting, both on a personal level and for my community, I couldn’t help shake those words… “We can do better.”
Later on, President Obama shared the following call to action:
“We have to continue his cause. If we want our children to grow up in a democracy – not just with elections – but a true democracy… we’re going to have to be more like John. We don’t have to do all of the things he had to do, because he did them for us. But we’ve got to do something.”
I know that I am personally not doing everything I can to change things for the better. I have more work to do.
If you are like me and you feel as though there is more you can do to help make our communities more equitable, more just… let’s do it together. John Lewis dedicated the entirety of his life showing us the way. What a great opportunity we have, individually and collectively, to honor his legacy.
David Gee, Vice President, HPS Chicago