2020 has been a year of challenges, chaos, and uncertainty. During this year of pandemic, economic decline, and unrest we have suffered significant and enduring loss. From the extremely near and personal loss of those in our family and friends circle to the Political, Celebrity and International Heroes that have lifted us for generations.
The Civil Rights movement lost Elijah Cummings in the fall of 2019, then the 2020 devasting loss of John Lewis and CT Vivian on the same day. Heroes, that served with deep purpose and conviction every day they were with us. This for many signaled the end of a generation of deep change at great personal sacrifice.
The recent death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg underscored for many generations the impact one person can have on the world and the echo her loss will leave behind. For many, Justice Ginsburg was a super hero. She shattered glass ceiling with unrelenting persistence in the lifelong pursuit that all people must be treated equally under the law.
Our Need for Heroes, Role Models and Disruptors
The world needs to see compassion, passion, and conviction in action. Embodied in unbent relentlessness to keep getting up, to stand up for those without the voice to do so, and to create “good trouble, necessary trouble” is critical to inspire and engage others in similar behavior.
Knowing that someone can choose a life of service and purpose and live each day with the steadfast determination to see that through, even when they know they may not live to see the vision that moves them.
So, we mourn their loss and feel into the corners of our soul that the world shines less brightly today than yesterday. We attempt to review what was extraordinary about them, hungerly reading biographies and obituaries to see what pattern of greatness lied within them. The loss feels palpable. The waves of anxiety and depression seem overwhelming. But there is hope in the darkness and light in the legacy.
The loss of heroes is not a new phenomenon, many of us lived through the wrenching loss of John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. in rapid succession. We lost political statemen that still leave us aching for those heroes still. But the footprint they left, the amazingly inspirational words of wisdom echo still decades and generations later.
Picking up the Mantle
Compassion, kindness, and justice do not die with the heroes of the same. They linger and light the path. You have role models for the disruptive trouble that is necessary in the universe and new heroes emerge every day from the Parkland Shooting Survivors to the Climate Change Youth leaders we see new people pick up the mantle from the giants whose shoulders they stand upon.
But you have that power too, it is in your grasp to make a difference. Make calls if you cannot go out. Register and Vote for change and justice. Help others in ways big and small. Kindness, compassion, and dignity should be shown to every human being. Be the change you wish to see. The world is a turbulent place, and in many ways this has always been true. Change is necessary and uplifting. Service and purpose are the best defenses for anxiety and depression. Your life may seem overwhelming to you but may be the dream of someone else. Share your gratitude, reach down with joy and compassion, lift up with hope and conviction. Teach from your own example of what justice, love and kindness look like. You may find the depression and anxiety will fade in the face of hope and action.
Talk to your counselor about ways you can make a difference. Do not see your anxiety or depression as an anchor but as a foundation of compassion and empathy. Listen, reach out and become the hero to one or many that will rise to fill the massive footprints of those that are resting in power now.