the responsibility of now (and honoring Radnor High Hall of Famers)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Over the course of this week I have walked the glorious Victoriana streets of Frenchtown, NJ, taught memoir in a bar called the Rat, given an impromptu one-hour address to a gathering of New Jersey kids, encouraged the idea of urgency in 20 high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors, listened to the stories of the fourth and fifth graders of West Philly, hung out at the Water Works with a drone and a camera crew, met with my Wall Street client, and spent time thinking about the arc of corporate strategies and the lives of patients. Later today I'll make the drive to Harleysville, where we will talk about LOVE and where I will listen to the tales of others. Tomorrow and Saturday I will return to my high school and watch my brother be inducted into the Radnor High Hall of Fame. Not just my brother, of course, but nine others who have done remarkable (and I do mean remarkable) things with their lives.

Here's a video, if you'd like to meet these souls (and my brother).

All of this seeing and living and talking and listening takes place against the backdrop of a bruised and battered world. Not just Paris, not just the Russian airliner, not just Lebanon, but the screech of stump speeches, the war over refugees, the stories that are not getting told because of the stories that must get told.

How do any of us maintain our perspective?

I'm not sure I know.

I'm just sure that I have made a commitment to try to stay informed, to read the objective reports, to take into consideration multiple points of view, to not condemn a group of people for the actions of a small minority, to still believe, as my hero Terrence des Pres believed, that goodness is bigger than badness and still entirely possible. Also—and this is critical—to admit when I am wrong, to be willing to adapt, to conclude newly, to advocate more gracefully.

I am sad. I admit that I am. But if I allow the sadness to eradicate my hope or my faith in people, then I have been defeated.

I don't wish to be defeated.

And so I go out, I talk to others, I listen to others, I ask for their stories. I remain open to the possibility of good.

That is our responsibility, in these times.


Linda C. Wisniewski said...

Yes, remaining open is the key for me as well. This week it was the stories of teen girls in a low income after school club. Life continues in parallel. ♡

Cleo from Jersey said...

In three short, intense hours at The Rat in Frenchtown, you swept away the cobwebs, restored our collective focus, and gave affirmation that we did, indeed, have stories to tell. Thank you Beth Kephart.

Beth Kephart said...

Off Kilter, you are spending your hours in the very rightest way. And Cleo! How did I not make the connection? It was lovely to have you all.

Cleo from Jersey said...

Hi Beth,

Cleo from New Jersey is Angela Muller...Cleo is/was my four-legged heart! Sorry for not changing that.

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