“If not us, then who? If not now, then when?”

  • Head's Note
Jess Thibault

The death of John Lewis, while imminent, still left a heavy feeling in my heart. I was fortunate to have Representative Lewis speak to several of my history classes when I taught in Atlanta and his spirit infused students with a desire to make a difference. He believed in the goodness of all people and that everyone can contribute to the good of society. He challenged students with statements like, “Every generation leaves behind a legacy. What that legacy will be is determined by the people of that generation. What legacy do you want to leave behind?” But would also reassure them with the idea that "You are a light. You are the light. Never let anyone — any person or any force — dampen, dim or diminish your light … Release the need to hate, to harbor division, and the enticement of revenge. Release all bitterness. Hold only love, only peace in your heart, knowing that the battle of good to overcome evil is already won."

In his last few months while fighting cancer, he praised the Black Lives Matter movement in universal terms holding true to his principles of non-violence. In a recent article he quoted himself from his 1963 March on Washington speech in asking Americans to come together to challenge systemic racism, “If not us, then who? If not now, then when?” I believe this also applies to our responsibility to work together to create a more healthy society in all the ways we can in everyday life. No step is too small and everyone can do the right thing in standing up for the true equal rights of all, through equal treatment of all.

And as Lewis proclaimed, “Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.” I believe this is at the heart of the values we are nurturing at Sage Ridge, the courage and integrity to work for a legacy that will improve our world for everybody.

  • head's note
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