As the shadow of war crosses over Ukraine, I am reflecting on the work Inner Strength does locally, the connection we have with you, and the purpose underlying all our programs and efforts.
Inner Strength was founded to cultivate calm, curiosity, and care among teenagers in order to help them envision and then actualize their higher potentials. We need those qualities now more than ever. Our world is complex. The issues facing us are nuanced and multi-faceted. If it were simple to chart our way forward, we would have found it, as so many caring and thoughtful people have their attention on creating a better world.
While we face daily and decade-long challenges, I am optimistic about the future and about our human capacities for creativity and care. I see regular “miracles” when people from different backgrounds and viewpoints hear each other and empathize. I see students burst into laughter, thrilled by their own discoveries and independent thinking. I see teachers setting down their burdens and sharing some lighter moments with colleagues, appreciating their school communities and the great people they work with.
These human moments of connection and creativity light up my day. And they lead me to reflect on the guiding principles that can help us when we are in the midst of more difficult moments.
Our willingness to shift our focus towards defining and refining our individual and collective purpose brings with it a capacity to embrace nuance and to hold paradox. Those capacities, when we can be with them without pushing for immediate resolution or solution, help a new vision of the possible to emerge. Purpose can be thought of as our sense of “why” am I doing what I’m doing? What do I cherish most in my life? In Life overall? How can I guide my students to connect their personals passions with a sense of their future? How can we identify, within a teen’s interests a connection with the way pursuing those positive interests can contribute to the greater good in their families’ well-being, their communities, or in the collective body of wisdom?
Keeping our sights on our greater purpose, on where we want to head to, and keeping our hearts and minds open to take in as many elements of the picture as possible will help us individually and collectively chart our way forward and navigate the many fissures underfoot.
As you read some of the good news happening within Inner Strength programs, I invite you to take a step back and reconsider your own work in light of your greater purpose. Why do you care about what you do? How does your everyday life touch and uplift those in your immediate circles and further afield? What happens within as you put attention on your own purpose and on that which brings meaning into your life?
In doing so, I hope and trust that you will find, even in difficult situations, renewed energy, conviction, faith, optimism, and joy in what you are already doing.
The Inner Strength Education team was invited to the Community Violence Intervention (CVI) seminar at Temple University, discussing the importance of mediation and violence intervention