With Resilience and Connection, We Shall Overcome

What you imagine as overwhelming or terrifying while at leisure becomes something you can cope with when you must - there is no time for fear. - Rebecca Solnit

In 2012, I got a job as a newly minted, Certified Domestic Violence Counselor at a shelter in San Francisco for women and their children. 

I had a lot to learn about the struggles our clients endured, about how to be an effective advocate for someone when they are in the throes of a personal crisis. 

But two beautiful things struck me when I first walked through the door: the resilience of the human spirit and our ability to take care of one another. 

The women and children we served had escaped dangerous, often life-threatening situations. And while their fear was often palpable, so too was their strength and resolve. 

They helped each other fill out complicated paperwork. They took turns cooking meals. They shared advice on how to talk to their children.

While there was fear, there was also strength. Where there was room for uncertainty, there was also room for connection and compassion.

Since 2016, we have felt fear, but we have also planted our feet firmly in our own internal resilience and persevered because of our ability to connect with each other. 

We were inspired by the largest single-day protest in US history, the 2017 Women’s March.

We were humbled by the flood of people who came forward with their stories of surviving sexual assault in the wake of the #MeToo movement, a campaign first coined by activist Tarana Burke in 2006.

We were grateful to stand in solidarity with our fellow Angelenos who swarmed LAX after the Trump Administration’s Muslim Ban.

We were (and are) thankful to immigration attorneys and activists who tirelessly advocate for people at the border, outside the border, in our country, and in detention.

We watched with tears in our eyes as hundreds of thousands of people lost their jobs because of the pandemic, while hundreds of thousands of other workers continue to risk their lives to put food on our tables and provide healthcare to our loved ones.

This summer, many of us were brought to our knees by the video of the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.

After months of staying inside, cautiously maneuvering around others on my morning runs so as to not get within six feet of another human, I, and millions of others, threw COVID concerns out the window and hit the streets with protest signs that read, “Defund the Police,” and guttural cries of “Black Lives Matter!”

Those first few fateful days in June were likely the spark of the largest movement for justice in US history.

What we have shown as a country over the last four years is that the human spirit cannot be defeated by hate. It cannot be snuffed out by those who don’t think we deserve to live safely. Many are calling this an awakening of the collective consciousness. People are showing up for those who don’t look or live or love like they do. Showing up because that is what we do for each other. 

From this, may we never return. 

With eyes open, our collective is bound to move us in a direction that is illuminated by our light, resilience, and spirit. That may not be clear today or tomorrow. But with time, it will be. 

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