As we complete our 192nd school year, I practice contemplative reflection, as I always do this time of year. I care to share a few important thoughts with you, and I kindly ask for your attention.
The past three months have been disorienting for all of us. The global health crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic has been disrupting and destroying lives in both the U.S. and worldwide. With over 100,000 deaths in the U.S. out of the 365,000 global casualties, so far, we admittedly are living through an unprecedented and horrific period in human history. Forty million Americans have already lost their jobs, with many more living in daily uncertainty in terms of health, financial footing, food security, and a variety of other fluid factors contributing to livelihood.
Amidst incomprehensible loss, fear and anxiety, America is yet again shocked by the senseless killing of another black person, George Floyd, at the hands of those asked to protect and to serve us. This follows on the heels of the deaths of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, two innocent black Americans who lives were also ended by police violence. Communities are lashing out, cities are erupting, and the federal government highlights the fact that our nation is deeply and sadly divided.
My wife, Sarah, and I had a long candid conversation on this Sunday morning. We spoke about the events unfolding each night in major cities around the country. We spoke about our role, as parents of 14 and 10 year olds, to educate and inform our family and friends. We spoke about moral responsibility and human rights. We spoke about the interfaith anti-racism curriculum Sarah recently completed for, delivered to, and trained up for the various churches and temples in our hometown of Lexington. We spoke about the need to be fierce allies for people of color as individuals with white privilege. We spoke about attending this evening's Black Lives Matter Protest, a peaceful solidarity march from Roxbury to the State House. We spoke about the need to write this letter.
As an educational leader and the head of school at Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall, I recognize that my school year, my work, never ends. It mustn't. Teachable moments are always presenting themselves, and we must embrace and engage with them. This is one such moment, and I ask that you embrace it with me.
I believe that human rights are non-negotiable.
I believe that our nation was founded on the principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that it continues to live into, with the targeted goal of true equality for all.
I believe that Americans are inherently good and resilient people, but some make wrong choices... and there are always consequences for our actions.
I believe that we all wish to leave our nation in a better place for our children.
I believe that one of our nation's gifts, in principle, is opportunity, but it is unfortunately not equal for all.
I believe that the Constitution guarantees equal protection of the laws to all citizens, and that no person should be above the law.
I believe that we can and need to be better citizens and people to one another.
I believe that the American Dream may be different for everyone, but common for all.
What do you believe? And how will you fight for, and promote, these beliefs? Will you remain silent and let the events of the day unfold because they don't seem to impact your daily life? Or will you understand that you have a moral obligation to do something, anything, to fight for human rights and against injustices in our society?
I don't mean to place such a heavy burden on your shoulders. Frankly, it should already be there. What I do ask is that you activate. Activate yourself to promote the common good. Discover opportunities that feel right and just to you. Contribute to solving the ills of our society. Pledge to make the world around you a better, more fair place for all people. Commit to what your senior speaker Caroline Burke '20 described on Friday morning as, "speak up and stand up." Caroline shared,
"...when one person addresses an issue on campus or off campus they are speaking up for every single person in their community. You are impacting everyday life at school or within your community for the better when you speak up and stand up. Even if you feel like you are just doing little things, they could end up having a big impact. I want you all to keep this in mind as you are moving on to your next steps in life, and remember this valuable lesson that a lot of people never really understand in their lifetime. We are all going to continue to face instances in our lives where we have to speak up for what we believe is right, whether it benefits others or ourselves."So for what do you wish to speak up about, and who will it benefit? I wish to thank Caroline for continuing this critical conversation on behalf of herself, her classmates and her peers at CH-CH. Don't let summer interfere with your learning and living, my friends. Be the change you wish to see and experience in society. Be a difference-maker.
With love and hope, I am,
Head of School