Like many of you, I’ve spent the last several days thinking about the next four years, and what they will bring. We are on the cusp of big changes to our society and the governing of our country that will force each of us to evaluate what we believe, and figure out how to enact those beliefs in the world.
On election night, when it became clear that Trump had pulled off a stunning upset, I went to bed with the word survival on my mind. I worried about what kind of world a President Trump would leave my children, who will be four and eight years old by the next election cycle. I pictured my husband and me keeping our heads down and trying to focus on our family. That night, I felt there was no room for us on society’s stage, that our ideologies were too far apart from those whom my fellow Americans had elected. I wanted only to survive until, God willing, we could start fresh again in 2020.
But as the days passed, I began to feel inspired by others taking a stand against the new administration, and I started to think about what I could do to make sure the next four years were not just survivable, but rewarding. I’ve always believed that great challenges reveal who people truly are, both as a society and as individuals. Will we choose to lay down and accept a change we don’t believe in? Or will we use this time as a means to grow even stronger, to build our characters and thus our community? I began to think about what I could do to make the world a better place in four years; to not just survive them, but to help my family, community and country thrive.
The first ideas I had, inspired mostly by political action newsletters and articles, were the obvious ones. I could contact my state and federal representatives more often. I could volunteer for political campaigns that pledge to affect change. I could donate money to causes that support my beliefs. I could make it my New Year’s resolution to be more politically involved in 2017.
But that plan was missing a key element. It didn’t take into account my personal strengths. Anyone could do the things I’d listed above. But what could I do that no one else could? How could I create positive change, using the weapons I already possess? Even more important, how could I use this challenge to help me grow into an even better, stronger person?
I realized that I needed a mission statement. I needed to formalize my perspective before I could share it with the world.
And so, dear world, this is what I believe:
I believe that my dedication to writing historical fiction is more important than ever. Understanding of history is vital for our perspective on what has been, and what will likely be. Politics and society swing back and forth from progressive to reactive. If we know what has been in the past, if we can be inspired by it and learn from it, we will be better equipped for the future. Just as we learn from mistakes in our own lives, we can learn from our society’s mistakes. By writing about historical periods different from our own, I can affect that thought process.
I believe that my career in music education is more important than ever. With so much more hate and division in the world, my students need an outlet to express themselves in a healthy, creative way. They need a place to come together as an ensemble to make music that transcends and heals. I must be present for my students and their families in an even greater capacity than before.
I believe that my parenting skills and my commitment to family are more important than ever. It is my job to raise two children who will respect diversity, show kindness, and value growth and constant self-education. It is also my job to keep my family united so that we can stand stronger together.
I believe that I must push myself further into the outside community. Although I am truly an introvert, and feel discomfort making connections to strangers, I believe I can rise above those feelings to connect more, volunteer more, give more to my community and country.
With this mission statement in mind, I can move forward into a world that makes me feel unsure and afraid. I can carry within me an understanding of my role in this world, shaped by strengths that are uniquely mine and commitment to overcoming challenges.
I encourage all of you, especially those who feel most disenfranchised by the changes we are facing, to make a mission statement of your own.
Who do you want to be for these next four years?
How will you play your role in society?
What can you bring to the table that no one else can?