“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Over the past few months, I have tried to embody this lesson into my own personal and professional life with much difficulty. The current political climate has given me much to contemplate. Because we are bombarded by daily attacks that I believe will decimate the most vulnerable among us, I have had plenty of time to sit and meditate with this quote. I think about this as a woman of color, as a family member, as a citizen and as an Executive Director in an industry that can influence and advocate, but I believe, has not found its voice in response to the attacks to the communities that we are in service of. It keeps me up at night some days. I have been trying to step outside of my head and step into this work with my heart and I welcome my funder colleagues to join me. Can we keep love at the center and rise up against the threats to our principles of social justice, compassion and forethought?
I recently moderated a panel at a philanthropy conference and I was taken aback by how business as usual many of the conversations were. I can appreciate the fatigue and the wish to see things as just another day or year but, if we pay close attention, it does seem that potentially the democratic fabric that ties us all together as Americans is at risk. We’ve been told to distrust the media, be weary of science and shut out people with great need. I continue to wake up wondering if I have made some of the most egregious parts of this up. But no. My own personal values are under attack but also the values of the Andrus Family Fund. We believe in Just Opportunity. What does this mean about the way we will go about our work and how we will continue building our relationships with partners?
It is not enough to be responsive to our grantees’ needs now, we must help them fortify their organizations so that they can be here for the long term and for what I believe will be the continuous onslaught of harsh policies for years to come. How do we help them galvanize the power of the moment—the marchers, the slogans, the fire and the anger—to build a lasting, effective movement that will turn out voters for local, regional and national elections to come? I believe that thinking about longevity and sustainability are the bigger goals that relate back to why we do this work.
While we at AFF don’t have all the answers and strive to listen to our partners and to dream of ways to make a greater impact, we must not lose sight of what’s at stake. I do not know that I believe that we are either good or not, but I do believe that under the right causes and conditions, anything is possible. Our future as a loving and compassionate people is being threatened. Let’s make sure to choose love.