Gary and I took time off work during the Holidays. From Christmas weekend until the New Year weekend, there was no commute to work; just a leisurely stroll to the holiday-decorated living room where we cuddled doggies, napped, read and watched television. Between work and school, we have not really had any time off this year and we were ready for the break.
I have stacks of books and magazines to read, so having the time to actually do so was thrilling for me. I selected “Becoming,” by Michelle Obama, as my book of the week. I had started the book previously, but didn’t really have time to dive into it until now. It was beautifully and transparently written. I am so appreciative of Obama’s generosity in sharing her story. Like most wonderful reads, I was saddened when I turned the last page — not ready to say “goodbye” yet. And then I realized I would not have to. Michelle Obama closed her book with parting words that I believe will stay with me ever after.
“Let’s invite one another in. Maybe then we can begin to fear less, to make fewer wrong assumptions, to let go of biases and stereotypes that unnecessarily divide us. Maybe we can better embrace the ways we are the same… There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there’s grace in being willing to know and hear others. This, for me, is how we become,” wrote Obama.
These words are perfect for any time, but very much needed during these especially difficult days. The COVID-19 pandemic arrived with its own set of problems but also, I believe, helped to draw back the curtain that had been serving to some degree to cloak racism, discrimination, health inequities and so much more.
Just as, with wide-open arms, we invited 2021 in, so too should we invite each other in. Interestingly, during these times of social distancing, our closeness is something that cannot be denied. Virtual meetings, social media posts, videos, documentaries, books, periodicals and more have given us opportunities, to get to know others who we might not have otherwise had the pleasure of knowing. It’s okay to not fully understand what our fellow humans might have endured or are enduring because, as Obama wrote, the grace is in “being willing to know and hear others.”
As she professes, this is how we “become.” I hope that 2021 will be the year we all become better listeners, friends, learners, advocates and more — in short, a better us for a better year.
Written and submitted by Amy Randall-McSorley for The Circleville Herald. The views of this column may not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper.