Hope is the only thing stronger than fear

I’m not sure about you, but I’m working hard to remain hopeful. I joke that my glass is always half full and that I live in the land of realistic optimism, but if I’m being honest, this summer has challenged me mightily.

I realize I’m not alone. We’re all deeply aware that so many in our communities are struggling. Amid illness and fear, racial injustice and anger, hurricanes, wildfires and glaciers and just plain uncertainty about the future, I know that hope can feel fleeting for many.

We’re aware that those we care about, some of our most vulnerable community members, are alone and hurting.

For me, some of my classic coping skills are just not working anymore. I am a planner. I like to figure things out. I like a challenge. But planning and seeing the clear path ahead has been challenging lately.

I was walking my dogs early one morning recently and got so caught up in trying to plan my day, week and life that I wasn’t paying attention and fell, with my dog’s leashes wrapped around my legs. I now am sporting a lovely blue and purple eye and a commitment to slow down a bit and pay attention to the moment.

I have joked that I cannot imagine dressing for work or wearing high heels again. But that joke is covering up my fear of the unknown, and my genuine interest in coming out of this experience somehow changed, stronger, focused or with increased clarity about my place in the world.

I also do not want to emerge from this time and simply go back to how things were before. I am not sure about you, but I do not want to emerge unchanged from this experience. I want to keep the slower pace, the willingness to sit without jumping to the next thing and a walk in the middle of the day to feel the sun on my face. I want to be left undaunted by the experience of working independently and quietly while juggling three barking dogs and a loud husband. I don’t want to be unchanged from this experience. I have already learned so much about myself, my colleagues, communication and certainly about technology.

I have been reminded that planning only takes you so far. Life can change, slowly or in the blink of an eye. Things that were so clear and true to us one day can suddenly be radically different.

I am trying to navigate my way through this. I do know that there are somethings that no matter your personal circumstance, life events, injustices or disasters remain constant.

Community, human connection, empathy and generosity of spirit are the things that binds us together.

These are elements that are universally important. These are the elements that make up our philanthropy and work together.

Philanthropy is often a path forward, new idea, way ahead, light in darkness, belief in good, commitment to the future, belief in resilience, sustainability, kindness, empathy and hopefulness.

That is a lot of responsibility.

What does this time mean for us?

Our work to inspire and connect and could not be more important. Our model and belief in the power and the promise of endowment are both proven and tested. Philanthropy continues to have a critical role in uncovering and addressing community needs and issues. As community leaders we need to advocate, speak out and take action. We must encourage participation in the census, the upcoming election and collaborate and connect with others.

Hopefully you’ll see some of just that in the rest of this newsletter. I know these times are challenging for us all. I hope we can each take a moment today to be inspired and find hope.