WE always LIVE IN UNCERTAIN TIMES - - NOT KNOWING WHAT WILL HAPPEN FROM one DAY TO the next. OUR daily CHALLENGE IS TO TRANSCEND THIS UNCERTAINTY. today, I WANT TO TALK ABOUT HOW WE DO THAT.
I am sure that we are all eagerly anticipating SPRING. TYPICALLY, SPRING IS A TIME OF HOPE and a TIME WHEN PEOPLE LOOK TO new beginnings. SPRING IS ALSO A TIME WHEN PEOPLE INDULGE - they get pure joy out of RAYS OF SUNSHINE, THE GREENING OF THE GRASS, THE blossoming of TREES AND FLOWERS with their perfumed frangrances. in spring, people actually STOP long enough TO SMELL THE roses. AFTER ALL, PEOPLE come HERE from around the world to enjoy the granduer of the Cherry blossoms.
THIS SPRING IS not as spring like at eeoc. THE OVERALL MOOD IS DOUR. IT IS AS THOUGH THE CURTAINS ARE DRAWN AND THE LANDSCAPE IS DARK. THE DARKNESS STEMS FROM THE UNCERTAINTY ABOUT the changes coming to the eeoc. there are underlying questions - what going to HAPPEN and when? SO, IS THERE HOPE FOR THE FUTURE? CAN WE CHANGE THE DARK LANDSCAPE AND LIFT THE CURTAINS? CAN WE FIND LIGHT? I assure you, IF WE LOOK AT and use the DARKNESS, WE WILL FIND THE LIGHT.
THINK ABOUT A TIME WHEN IT WAS DARK AND YOU COULD NOT GET TO A FLASHLIGHT, TURN ON A LIGHT, OR EVEN LIGHT A CANDLE. EVENTUALLY, YOUR EYES ADJUSTED TO THE DARKNESS AND YOU COULD SEE. NOT BECAUSE THERE WAS LIGHT, BUT BECAUSE YOU MADE THE NECESSARY ADJUSTMENT. THEN, EVEN IN THE DARKness, YOU COULD SEE THINGS - FIGURES, SHAPES AND EVEN THE WAY TO THE DOOR. ADJUSTING TO THE CIRCUMSTANCES ALLOWED YOU TO GET THE PERSPECTIVE YOU NEEDED TO MANAGE IN THE DARK. IN THE END, YOU CAME OUT IN THE LIGHT.
now, MANY OF US, -i believe most of us, - WORK AT EEOC BECAUSE OF ITS NOBLE MISsiON. WE WANT TO be a force IN ERADICATING DISCRIMINATION. we have THE ABILITY TO BOLSTER, PROVIDE AND SOMETIMES even RESTORE DIGNITY TO THOSE WE HELP. OVER THE YEARS, many of us have ENDURED a number of EFFORTS TO IMPROVE THE methods that we use to ADDRESS DISCRIMINATION. IN MANY WAYS, IT IS BECAUSE OF THE DIGNITY ASPECT THAT WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO ENDURE THESE "DARK" PERIODS. it is because WE WANT TO SHINE A spot LIGHT ON INJUSTICE.
while FIGHTING THESE BATTLES FOR OTHERS, WE ALSO NEED TO STAND AGAINST INTERNAL INJUSTICES AND INDIGNITIES. TAKING A STAND WILL SHINE A LIGHT FOR US AS WELL AS for OTHERs and will allow us to survive THE DARKENED LANDSCAPE.
HISTORY PROVIDES SOME GREAT INSIGHT INTO HOW darkness can be used as a tool to triumph. THESE PEOPLE DID NOT SEEK FAME OR GLORY. MOST were just seeking a BETTER WAY OF LIFE. but those that we truly remember, WERE NOT just CONTENT WHEN THEIR PERSONAL SITUATION IMPROVED AND THEIR individual DARKNESS BECAME LIGHT. those we MOST remember, struggled AGAINST UNFAIR SYSTEMS THAT ROBBED NOT ONLY THEMSELVES, BUT OTHER PEOPLE OF LIGHT. THAT IS WHAT DISCRIMINATION AND RACISM DO, ROB PEOPLE OF BOTH THEIR DIGNITY AND HUMANITY.
WE JUST CELEBRATED BLACK HISTORY MONTH. if WE LOOK AT CHAMPIONS OF CIVIL RIGHTS, AND RECALL THEIR DARKEST HOURS, THERE ARE LESSONS WE CAN learn about using the darkness as a STRENGTH.
WE ALL KNOW ABOUT DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. IN THE FACE OF BLATANT RACISM, JAILINGS, TAUNTING AND CRIMINAL ACTS DIRECTED AT HIM AND HIS FAMILY, HE WAS ABLE TO unite people with a common purpose. USING HIS WORDS AS A SWORD, DR. KING WAS ABLE TO SWAY THE DIRECTION OF THIS NATION. he brought light to the DARKNESS OF hatred and bigotry.
archbishop DESMUND TUTU ALSO SPOKE OUT AGAINST RACISM. as a result of HIS EFFORTS TO GRANT DIGNITY TO OPPRESSED PEOPLE, THERE WAS A CONCERTED EFFORT TO CLOAK HIM IN DARKNESS. his PASSPORT WAS confiscated. AND UNDER THE LAWS AT THE TIME, IT WAS even ILLEGAL TO PRINT HIS SPEECHES OR EXCERPTS FROM THEM. archbisop TUTU continues to work WITH THE POOR and to fight racism, MAINTAINING THAT NO MAN SHOULD BE COMFORTABLE with the worlds's injustices JUST BECAUSE HIS ECONOMIC PROSPERITY OR INDIVDIUAL CONDITIONs have IMPROVEd.
NELSON MANDELA WAS IMPRISIONED FOR ALMOST FORTY YEARS. EIGHTEEN OF THOSE YEARS WERE ON AN ISLAND that was formerly a lepers' colony. NOW, DESPITE THE NUMEROUS REASONS GIVEN FOR THE NEED TO IMPRISON MANDELA, IT ALL BOILS DOWN TO THIS - his imprisonment was designed to rob him of his dignity and humanity. despite the inhumanities and THE indignities mr. mandela endured, HE contined his fight for THE DIGNITY OF ALL PEOPLE. before there was an eeoc, mr. MANDELA BELIEVED IN THE FIGHT AGAINST DISCRIMINATION, FOR DISCRIMINATION IS JUST ANOTHER WAY OF EXPLOITING WORKERS. DESPITE ADVERSITY, mr. MANDELA FACED HIS PERSECUTORS BY MAINTAINing HIS LIGHT, HIS DIGNITY AND NOT SINKING TO THE LEVELS OF INDIGNITY HEAPED UPON HIM. mr. MANDELA MAINTAINED HIS BELIEF THAT FAITH, HOPE AND CHARITY ARE HUMAN QUALITIES. THESE ARE the QUALITIES OF LIGHT THAT HE CONTINUES TO PRACTICE - - BESTOWING them on the multitudes that he touches.
this month is national women’s history month and there are even more lessons to be learned. raised in segregated bennetville, South CAronlina, marian wright-edelman was expected by her father to get an education and serve others. as the first black female admitted to the bar of mississippi, she worked for the poor. she lit the way for millions of poor children when, in 1973, she established what is now know as the children’s defense fund. because of the children’s defense fund, the way has been lit for poor children to realize educational opportunities, equality, justice and dignity.
hariett tubman used darkness as a STRENGTH to free slaves. having been hit in the head with a heavy object thrown at someone else, she suffered from blackouts. despite the blackouts, her runaway slave status, and a $40, 000 bounty on her head, she persevered. on nineteen occasions, using the darkness of night, of barns, cellars and false rooms, harriet tubman, returned to the south and led 300 other slaves and family members out of slavery, to freedom in the north.
THESE LESSONS LIVE ON and THE FIGHT IS NOT OVER. WE must continue our WORK AT EEOC TO HELP ENSURE THAT THE LIGHT WILL SHINE AND THAT THE FIGHT FOR JUSTICE AND HUMANITY CONTINUES. WE WILL NOT - - we can not - - LET CHANGES AT EEOC - - SUCH AS, denying information or MAKING A EEOC A BUSINESS VENTURE OF PROCESSING WIDGETS RATHER THAN ENFORCING THE LAWS AGAINST DISCRIMINATION, PLUNGE US INTO DARKNESS. WE WILL -and - WE MUST - - TAKE THIS TIME OF DARKNESS AND MAKE IT OUR STRENGTH AND OUR SPOT LIGHT to IMPROVe CONDITIONS FOR those who rely on our dedication.
OUR challenge IS TO CONTINUE TO LIGHT THE WAY BY focusing on OUR MISSION'S WORK AND IMPROVING CONDITIONS FOR all working people, including ourselves. WE must CONTINUE TO ASK THE DIFFICULT QUESTIONS and use all AVENUES TO GET ANSWERS TO THOSE QUESTIONS.
eric hoffer, a social scientist observed that the basic test of freedom is perahps less in WHAT WE ARE FREE TO DO THAN IN WHAT WE ARE FREE NOT TO DO. what we are not free to do, is TO plunge others into darkness and strip them of their dignity.
PERHAPS IT IS BECAUSE SPRING IS COMING. PERHAPS IT IS THE PARTICULAR WHIMSY OF TODAY. PERHAPS IT IS THE POWERFUL LESSONS LEARNED. - but i believe, THE DIGNITY WE GIVE ONE ANOTHER GIVES US POWER, gives us strength, and enables us the light the way,despite THE DArkness.
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