“I woke up this morning and felt …”
This is a chorus, a refrain I’m seeing on social media platforms of all kinds and hearing from colleagues today, post-election. Their feelings are powerful — and we are whole people with feelings, too, which don’t just dissipate when we walk into work. And yet, we do still go to work, every day with and for the young people we serve. And there is significant work to do.
This morning we woke up to a new day in which children need comfort, community and care. We work, guide and fund a professional field designed to create safe spaces for young people wherever they live and learn. And today is the perfect day to do so.
The nation has spoken and chosen its leaders. In the case of the presidential election, more than half do not agree. That, however, is sometimes the nature of our democracy. So now our leaders must govern, and as they do so we have to make sure they do not forget who we fight for. We have to make sure the young people we work with and for have the support they need today and the voice and opportunities they need for the future.
This morning, in speaking to the nation, Hillary Clinton reminded us to focus on the principle of equal rights and dignity for all. “We respect and cherish these values and must defend them,” she said.
“The principle, we are all equal in rights and dignity. … Let’s do all we can to advance the causes we hold dear. Breaking down the barriers that hold any American back from achieving their dreams.” It’s big enough for everyone, she reminded us. And that’s the cause we work toward in the youth development field.
We also have the power and responsibility — to make our workplaces spaces where young people know they are loved and valued, whoever they are, as they are. We have the responsibility to bring out the best of us in each other. We have to, because the work of supporting and empowering young people remains.
“I want everyone coming out from behind [private groups] and make sure your voices are heard going forward,” Clinton challenged us this morning.
I plan to channel my thoughts and work in the spirit of Clinton’s reminder: “To the young people,” she said, “I have spent my entire adult life fighting for what I believe in. I’ve had successes and setbacks. … You will have successes and setbacks too. This loss hurts, but please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.”
“Never doubt that you are valuable, and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.”
Of course, we have to feel our feelings. We work in community with each other. And then we remember that our work is about the young people who will show up after school today, tomorrow and the next day.
Something I have loved most about working in youth development is being in community with other people who commit to building a healthier, stronger, more positive environment. Let’s stay true to that, and to our missions, and let us not grow weary or lose heart.