Rarely do words communicate from beyond the grave as profoundly as did the words of John Lewis, Civil Rights patriarch and US Congressman. In his brief essay written shortly before his death, Lewis wrote,
“Though I am gone, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart
And stand up for what you truly believe. In all my life I have done all I can to demonstrate the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more
excellent way. Now it’s your turn to let freedom ring.”
Lewis goes on to anchor these words in a deeper context of the words of MLK that spoke to his heart as a young man. Listening on an old radio, John heard, “we are all complicit when we tolerate injustice, it’s not enough to say it will get better by and by, and each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up, and speak out.”
Equity is defined as the quality of being fair and impartial. Racial equity, according to the Center for Social Inclusion, is about applying justice and a little common sense to a system that’s been out of balance. Based on the extreme level of imbalance in the current system we live in, movement toward equity will not be attained without both a transformed mindset and a radically new way of treating one another.
I believe that to truly embrace a movement toward equity in these troubled times, where toxic rancor, racism, and violence are intersecting with the viral explosion of a pandemic, will require open heart surgery, not physically, but philosophically and emotionally.
John Lewis was a living example of a person who had a new heart – the kind that beat to the rhythm of justice with the vitality of love coursing through veins that empowered his mind and body to take action. May we all stop our frantic grasping for solutions, and take time to breathe, reflect, and let John’s life and example speak to our hearts in ways that give his words the space they need to do their heart-transforming work.
“So I say to you, brothers and sisters, walk with the wind, and let the spirit of
peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.”
Ritch Hochstetler, President and CEO at ULEAD