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Matters of the Head and the Heart: Part Four — The Way Forward

Posted on July 16, 2020 by John Ferguson, TPF Fellow 2020/21

Editor's Note: CONTINUE READING: Matters of the Head and the Heart: Part One — How Do We Move Forward Together?, Part Two — Looking Inward, and Part Three — Turning Outward.


Now that we understand the challenges we face and how and why to look inward and then turn outward, we can start to create a new vision for the future—a new way forward, together.

Let’s begin from the following premise—none of this is about taking sides. It’s not about being right or wrong, or even about our emotions and feelings. And it’s not political. No single crisis cares about any of us, our feelings, or for whom (or if) we vote. All have the potential to obstruct, destroy, or even end our lives. And all can be conquered by working together. But we have to do the hard individual and collective work.

If we seek to discover the different realities we face through our individual research, shared lessons learned, and intentional conversations with those closest to us and beyond, we could emerge from these concurrent crises stronger than ever.

Think about it. I know many of us, myself included, have moments where we long for things to go back to how they were pre-crises. That was quite comfortable in many ways for many people, but never for everyone. Why would we not take advantage of the opportunity to alter systems that no longer move us forward and reflect our values? We can create something more equitable and possibility-laden for all people. Isn’t that how this whole American experiment started?

With July 4th in recent memory, I cannot help but think about how the freedom our founders fought for could look in today’s world. We have the opportunity to redefine freedom in a way that allows everyone to fully experience it—some for the very first time.

The freedom I dream about is one where all people have access to a fulfilling future brimming with possibilities for personal growth without undue financial constraints or systems that hinder the pursuit of the American dream for any one group within our diverse tapestry of citizens. One where people care enough about community to protect each other. Protect each other from the spread of COVID-19 by practicing social distancing and wearing face coverings—not because we are forced to, but because we strive to protect the most vulnerable among us. Protect each other from racist comments or actions—not because we feel guilty or obligated to follow policies or laws, but because of our strong empathy and desire for each other to fully experience the freedoms to which we are all entitled.

What could become possible if our efforts to change our society for the better centered around the idea that every human life has value, unique and amazing gifts to share with the world, and unlimited potential?

Our strength as a society is reflected by the treatment of our most vulnerable citizens. If we were to strengthen them and their opportunities, imagine what would become possible. If we all lived guided by the five constants that drive the work of The Patterson Foundation—caring, connecting, collaborating, contributing, and creating—our actions and pursuits would shift toward what’s possible. As our CEO Debra Jacobs would say: Possibilitarians persist!

I invite you to join me. To dwell in possibility. To put politics aside. To take the necessary and fulfilling journey to discover who we truly are as individuals and as communities. To be kind to ourselves and each other. To be vulnerable in our sharing and in our growth. And to encourage learning and sharing through deep connection with ourselves first, then with others. Only then can we evolve as a society and become the strong nation we long to be.

We have a rare opportunity to choose how the next chapter of our American history books will read. My hope is that we find the strength to band together to create, once and for all, a nation that is indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. And that future begins with a single step. Let’s take it together.

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