Before this week even started, I knew that I wanted to write my essay this Sunday about inclusion and unity.
I knew that I wanted to write about pushing for change. About staying the course. About the power that one voice and one idea can have in making a difference. About how people can mobilize around that one idea and work together to change families, change futures, change lives, and change our entire society for the better.
I wanted to write about all of this because, this past week, the Special Olympics — the program that my mother started in our own backyard – turned 50 years old! My family and the larger Special Olympics family came together to celebrate in Chicago, the site of the very first games. We were joined by many familiar faces, as well as lots of new ones who showed up to lend their voices and support to this important cause. It was a wow on every level. (Thank you, Chance the Rapper, Smokey Robinson, and all the other artists who performed at the celebration concert last night.)
Special Olympics is all about inclusion and unity. It’s also about family, the respect of the individual, the power of volunteerism, and the strength of community. No one in Chicago this past week asked anyone about their political affiliation (which was a such a relief!). Instead, people from all walks of life and political backgrounds came together to celebrate what it means to be unified. To be whole. To be one, together.
It’s ironic that this was happening at the same time that our political world was erupting all around us. I must say that if I hadn’t been in Chicago this past week, then I might have lost my balance. I might have lost my mind. President Obama’s speech about “strongman politics” certainly made me reconsider what I wanted to write about this week. But, just when I needed a reminder that unity was still in our midst, I got to see it right in front of me in Chicago. That’s why I thought it was so important this week to remind you of that, too.
People can and do come together. They do know right from wrong. They do know that others should be treated with respect and dignity. They do want to be a part of something larger than themselves. They do want to volunteer and give of themselves to make our communities, our towns, our cities, and our country better.
Teachers and students. Coaches and cops. Artists and parents. Different sexes. Different colors. Different ages. This past week, I saw Americans from all walks of life standing proudly next to one another and next to people from other countries. They were all there together, unified by the same passion and purpose.
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