A Timeless Message of Hope

I wasn’t planning on writing a timely post for Martin Luther King day this year, but I saw something yesterday that inspired me to do so: I watched David Letterman’s recent interview with Barack Obama, and when the far-ranging conversation turned to civil rights, Letterman recalled walking with John Lewis across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, 50 years after the Selma-to-Montgomery marches of 1965.

As you may already know, during the first march (a legal, nonviolent protest against discriminatory voting regulations), state troopers attacked the unarmed marchers with nightsticks and tear gas, and even beat Amelia Boynton (one of the march’s organizers) until she was unconscious.

Although this horrific experience (known as “Bloody Sunday”) was a major setback, the marchers were not defeated. Two days later, when they returned to the location for a “Turnaround Tuesday” march, their numbers had swelled to nearly five times the size of the original march, as they were joined by sympathizers from all around the country, including Martin Luther King.

This event, however, was also not the success they had envisioned, as they were forced to discontinue the march long before they reached Montgomery. Also, after the march, KKK members attacked and killed James Reeb, a minister from Boston who was in town for the march.

But even this second round of setbacks and tragedy did not stop the movement. In fact, less than two weeks later, the marchers returned — and this time they realized their original vision. By the time they reached Montgomery (on March 25, 1965, with federal protection and nationwide support), they had been joined by approximately 25,000 supporters — almost 50 times the number of people as had started the original march!

The marches were not merely a symbolic success. Between the second and third marches, President Johnson introduced the Voting Rights Bill to prohibit racial discrimination in voting; that summer, he signed the bill into law.

Hearing this story recounted, I was incredibly moved by the strength and bravery of the marchers in 1965, and I was also filled with hope for the present and future. At a time when it’s so easy to lose hope — to feel your spirit crushed by personal and social setbacks — it’s encouraging to remember that others have prevailed over setbacks…and emerged with even greater strength!

I realize that the victories of 1965 weren’t absolute or permanent. The pendulum swings back and forth. Discrimination is not over, and John Lewis and other civil-rights advocates still come under attack for their efforts to advance equality and justice. But the example of John Lewis, Martin Luther King, and the other marchers in Selma renewed my faith that oppression of truth, justice, and freedom will be met with a magnified surge of soulful strength and peaceful power.

So if you’re feeling disheartened at seeing the resurgence of a newly emboldened KKK, the disparagement of black people in the U.S. and around the world, or other examples of bigotry (such as Islamophobia or anti-LGBT discrimination), find hope in the Civil Rights Movement, which overcame setbacks and came back stronger than ever!

And the same holds true in ALL areas of your life: If you face personal setbacks, obstacles, attacks (of any kind), or even tragedies, please know that this does not need to be the end of the road for you. You too can rise up even stronger, you can recommit to your values with redoubled vigor, and you can reach your dreams.

On this day of national remembrance, may these reminders bring you a renewed sense of faith, optimism, and hope.

Photograph by Steve Schapiro: John Lewis (far right) marches to Montgomery, Alabama, in March 1965 with the Rev. Ralph David Abernathy, James Foreman, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesse Douglas.


David Cassidy’s Last Words

Last month, former teen idol David Cassidy died at the age of 67.

The world has lost some pretty big rock stars recently — including Tom Petty, Walter Becker of Steely Dan, Malcolm Young of AC/DC, and Pat DiNizio of The Smithereens (not as well known as the others, but one of my all-time favorites) — but none of their deaths haunt me as much as Cassidy’s.

This might seem odd since I wasn’t even a fan of his. I never watched The Partridge Family, and I don’t really know his music. (I only vaguely remember hearing “I Think I Love You” as a kid, but that’s […] Continue Reading…

Inspiration from a Young Mother

The stories in our new book, Goodness Abounds, follow two basic guidelines:

They have to be true stories about goodness.
The “good-doer” has to be someone other than the author.

Because of guideline #2, these stories aren’t about authors “tooting their own horn” (which is fine in many contexts — but that simply isn’t the focus of this book). Sometimes, though, even while they were shining a spotlight on other people’s goodness, I couldn’t help but admire the authors themselves. This was definitely the case with Jerri Eddington’s story, “The Baby and the Bus Driver.”

In this piece, Jerri pays tribute to a bus driver who […] Continue Reading…

The Empowering Alternative to Nature vs. Nurture

Where do you stand on the “Nature vs. Nurture” debate?

What do you think makes us who we are: Is it the genes we inherit from our biological parents? Is it our environment and the way we’re raised? Or is it some combination of these factors — and, if so, which factor has the  biggest influence?

You could make a convincing argument for either position: On the Nature side, you’ve probably heard stories of twins raised separately who went on to live remarkably similar lives. On the Nurture side, you can clearly see the effect of environment and upbringing by observing how frequently people […] Continue Reading…

4 Kinds of Dreams

There are four kinds of dreams. You’re probably already familiar with the first three:

Literal Dreams – the kind you have when you’re sleeping. (A fascinating topic, but not the focus of this post.)
Emerging Realities – the goals and visions that you’re actively working toward manifesting. (These are the “dreams that you dare to dream” that really do come true – works-in-progress where there’s actual progress!)
Pipe Dreams – far-fetched fantasies, unrealistic flights of fancy, or downright impossible dreams. (This is the kind of dream that, I believe, gives dreamers a bad name!)

But there’s a fourth kind of dream that’s rarely discussed…but often experienced: velleities.

Merriam-Webster defines […] Continue Reading…

Ego and Soul: Opponents or Partners?

I love to read for so many reasons: for inspiration, for education, and just for the fun of it! I read because it expands my world and introduces me to new people and new perspectives. I read, as C. S. Lewis said, “to know we are not alone.” And I read because, every now and then, an author takes a thought that I’d had, but hadn’t been able to put into words, and articulates it far more eloquently than I could’ve done. I recently had this experience (again and again and again) while reading Jodi Chapman’s new book, Soul Bursts.

I love so […] Continue Reading…

Goes to Show, You Don’t Ever Know

I recently experienced a frustrating — but ultimately eye-opening and heart-opening — situation with a company I’d contracted to do some work around my house. The situation was that they never showed up and never returned my calls…even after they’d been paid for the work.

Because they’re a reputable company, I wasn’t worried that they’d split the country with the money I’d already paid (a relatively small amount, fortunately); I was more just confused. I couldn’t help wondering: Didn’t they want the work?  Didn’t they want the rest of the money I would’ve paid them (if they would actually show up and do the […] Continue Reading…

I’ll Have What She’s Having

If you’ve ever seen the movie When Harry Met Sally, you undoubtedly remember the famous scene of Meg Ryan, um, “faking it” in the deli. (Even if you haven’t seen the movie, chances are you’ve seen this clip in one of the countless montages it’s featured in.) And, in either case, you also probably remember the “topper” line that closes the scene (delivered by the director’s mother, Estelle Reiner): “I’ll have what she’s having.”

Aside from its raunchy comedic value, this line offers great advice about relationships, business, and just about every other area of life: Rather than trying to […] Continue Reading…

What’s Next?

Have you ever experienced (or witnessed) any of these scenarios?:

You just got married, and people immediately start asking you when you’re going to have kids.
You just experienced a loss or setback, and people immediately start trying to “help” you move forward.
You just finished a major project, and people immediately start asking you what you’re going to do next.
You watch a sports team celebrate winning the championship, and a reporter asks about their plans for next season.

In these situations (or any similar ones), the questions all boil down to the same essence: What’s next?

What’s next on the agenda? What are you going […] Continue Reading…

My (Belated) Words of the Year

For the past few years, I’ve come up with a word of the year — something that encapsulated my desired focus and aspirations for the coming 12 months. I fully expected to do the same this year as well, but when January 1 rolled around, I just wasn’t feeling it.

No single word was calling to me — and the words that did keep springing into my mind (such as anger, bewilderment, disgust, and disillusionment) were hardly ones that I wanted to serve as my theme for the year! But trying to force myself to “fake it till I make it” […] Continue Reading…