- Kimberley Guillemet
― Lauryn Hill
I remember when I first heard the song “Everything is Everything.” I was a junior in college and one of my classmates had the new Lauryn Hill album playing on her car stereo as she drove me to my dorm. I remember that even after she had pulled into a parking spot and put the car in park, I couldn’t bring myself to get out of the car until the song was over. Its genius struck me as much then as it does today. There is tremendous truth in this simple statement. Everything is literally connected to everything else. Despite living in a day and age where we find ourselves more separated and polarized than ever, with folks digging their heels in deeper and deeper as they defend their various ideological stances, it’s more imperative than ever to remember that we are all connected. As we celebrate Black History Month, it is important to recognize that cultural pride should not occur in a vacuum; nor does it need to take place to the exclusion of inclusivity. This is true for celebrations of pride for all groups. We can celebrate our achievements in a way that both pays homage to the hard-fought accomplishments of our people, while concurrently acknowledging that we need and rely upon each other as fellow citizens of humanity, regardless of our ethnicity, creed, or background. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the most prolific leaders of our time, who is widely celebrated during Black History Month, understood this truth all too well. Though often lauded for the work he did to advance the cause of equal rights for African Americans, Dr. King was a staunch advocate for equal access and justice for all people. He believed in the interconnectedness of humanity and that none of us are free until all of us are free.He once shared that he told his children, “I don’t ever want you to forget that there are millions of God’s children who will not and cannot get a good education, and I don’t want you feeling that you are better than they are. For you will never be what you ought to be until they are what they ought to be.” As Dr. King understood, what happens to the least of us, impacts all of us. We must remember the context of humanity in which we exist. We do not thrive in a vacuum. Everything truly is everything. All of our actions impact the actions and experiences of other people in an often a cyclical and unintentionally symbiotic manner. Everyone truly is connected to everyone else. The way we move, live, and breathe in the world impacts
our fellow humans, for better or for worse. We rely on each other. We need each other. And we should care about each other.
- Kimberley Guillemet
In the words of the prolific India.Arie,
It doesn't cost a thing to smile
You don't have to pay to laugh
You better thank God for that.
Stand up for your rights
Keep shining your light
And show the world your smile.”
At the beginning of each new year, humans have taken to setting resolutions and new goals that they wish to accomplish in the coming 364 days. As the year wears on, however, we often find that we have not accomplished all that we set out to achieve, at least not at the rate we expected. I think that over the last two years, it’s been more and more challenging to hold on to the optimism that each new year brings. For many of us, life feels harder; things seem more complicated now than ever.
It is true that with each passing year, living becomes more layered, more complex, and more nuanced. But no matter what issues we face, we always have a choice. We can choose hope. We can choose to look forward to the next day with optimism, gratitude and faith. I choose hope every day, even on the days when it feels easier not to.
I remember many people in my lineage who faced horrific circumstances, and could’ve given up or opted out of trying, but they didn’t. I am grateful that they did not because had they done so, I would not be here.
I choose hope because I think of women like our World Changer of the Month, Elizabeth Taylor, and how easy it would’ve been for her to give up after her husband, small child, mother and sister-in-law died. But she did not. She believed in the possibility of a brighter tomorrow. She chose hope.
So as we begin the year 2023, let’s remember that there is always hope. Let’s commit to choosing it every day.
- Kimberley Guillemet
We often don’t know what to do, but we don’t give up."
― St. Paul the Apostle
Life is tough sometimes. Sometimes the unexpected happens and it feels as if the earth has fallen from beneath our feet. When those “take your breath away moments” happen, they can be scary, anxiety-ridden and perplexing.They can cause us to call everything into question.
The “what if” has come to pass. What if all of the other “what ifs” come to pass? Then what?
I have had to face this question recently and my response to myself has been: we keep going.
Please understand that I do not mean to imply that what it will take to keep going will be easy or pretty or comfortable. It almost assuredly will not.
What I do mean to say is that while we give all respect to the gravity of the difficult moment in which we find ourselves, we must soldier on. Those moments, no matter how gritty, ugly, hard and gut-wrenching they may be, do not exist in vain. They do not exist to wreck us emotionally and leave us eternally in ruins.
They will pass, and we will be better.
The real tragedy would be if we refused to let our hardest moments make us stronger, wiser and more resilient.
If we make it through to the other side of the seemingly insurmountable trials that we thought we couldn't, imagine what else we can do.