By: Charlie Rose, Senior Vice President and Dean Of City Year
I am humbled by the opportunity to write the New Year’s blog post for City Year, an institution that I have had the privilege of working for and on for the past 27 years. As 2015 winds down and we contemplate what 2016 will bring, I find myself hopeful, optimistic, inspired and ready to do my part.
For the past few months of 2015, I struggled to make any sense of the world we live in. I felt deeply distressed by world, national and local events ~ from the madness of the Paris attacks in November to the next mass shooting in San Bernardino to the daily challenges in our local communities, I found myself a bit disillusioned and off balanced. I rarely experience those types of feelings so I was wary of writing this blog post.
But a few small things have helped me regain a sense of hope and have helped me believe that 2016 is a year of unprecedented opportunity in our communities, our nation and our world. The first was a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. quote that came in the mail. I received an invitation to the Boston Children’s Chorus’s annual MLK concert and the following quote was prominently featured:
"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant."
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. accepting Nobel Peace Prize December 10, 1964 in Oslo, Norway
This was exactly what I needed to refocus and regain a bit of lost faith and belief. I have always been a person who is long on faith and belief, but this past year had temporarily shaken my faith and left me in search of perspective. I decided to look up the entire speech from which the quote came and found just what I needed ~ light in a dark moment. Dr. King also said the following in the very same speech:
“Sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace, and thereby transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. If this is to be achieved, man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”
He went on to say:
“I believe that even amid today's mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow. I believe that wounded justice, lying prostrate on the blood-flowing streets of our nations, can be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men.”
Shortly after reading the speech I visited several schools with City Year teams at work. I saw what I always see when I visit our schools. I saw love put into action. I saw real and meaningful relationships between City Year AmeriCorps members and students. I saw true partnership between school staff and our teams. I strongly believe that we at City Year are on the right path and are having deep and important impact each and every day. We are charged with lifting spirits, bringing positive energy that seeds motivation for learning and cooperation, spreading love and hope and working with communities that we are proud to partner with in rising the next generation of learners and leaders.
Building community is fundamental to our work at City Year and it is necessary to fortify ourselves and deal with despair. I am heartened by the reality that we at City Year get to live out the words that Dr. King spoke and work towards a beloved community. I am humbled to know that we have the opportunity to bring our best selves to our work each and every day. It is an amazing thing to have such an opportunity and it is more necessary than ever.