Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

Listening to the radio yet again, this time while re-potting some seedlings, I happened across Democracy Now, and between horrific accounts of the continued torture of prisoners in Guantano Bay under the Obama administration, I heard the moving commencement speech that soul singer John Legend gave at the University of Pennsylvania, College of Arts and Sciences last Sunday.

It’s not the same experience to read the words as it was to hear them, but here are a few nuggets anyway:

I would say that a commitment to truth requires a commitment to social justice.

When we develop a sense of empathy, when we become listeners, when we become witnesses to the truth, it requires that we turn down some of the noise and clutter of OUR daily lives and stop to think about the way OTHERS live.

Searching for truth is in many ways the same as searching for your soul.

His words spoke to the way I feel. The older I get the less able I am to sit or stand by when I am hearing a perpetuation of an untruth. I know that truth is relative, but what I am getting tired of is the glossing over of truths that we don’t want to bear witness to. I’m tired of the amount of attention paid to trivial, meaningless distractions when there are real people suffering and real wrongs being committed.

I feel like I’m slowly shifting gears, slowly getting ready to find ways to do meaningful work outside of my own little family, thinking of where I can best effect change.


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OnĀ  my run today, while thinking on the discussions about gender bias and expectations, I heard this by Ani Difranco (from 32 Flavors).

And God help you if you are an ugly girl
Course too pretty is also your doom
Cause everyone harbors a secret hatred
For the prettiest girl in the room
And God help you if you are a phoenix
And you dare to rise up from the ash
A thousand eyes will smolder with jealousy
While you are just flying past

Ani Difranco is quite an inspiring woman. She turned her back on the big record labels because they wouldn’t give her creative control, and founded her own record company, Righteous Records (now Righteous Babe Records) with just $50. I admire her for the way she believed in herself, and for her courage in living a life of her own choosing, critics be damned.

Those particular lyrics speak to me, because they’re about the way women in particular are judged, often by other women. It’s bad to be ugly, but it’s just as bad to be “too” pretty (or for that matter, too opinionated, too smart, too successful, even too “perfect”). Only somewhere in the middle are we safe, because that way we’re no threat. Can’t be calling attention to ourselves now, can we?

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Trite But True

A few months ago, my parents took us all out for Chinese food. The Littles loved their fortunes, so they sticky taped them near the Messy Counter in the kitchen, where they were promptly forgotten, but I found them this morning during one of my random bursts of cleaning energy, and I decided that I love them too, so now they’re sticky taped to my computer desk. They’re my new motivational mantras.

Nothing in the world is accomplished without passion.


Your determination will bring you much success.

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summer 2007 054

What Is Success? by Ralph Waldo Emerson


To laugh often and much;

To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;

To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;

To appreciate beauty;

To find the best in others;

To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social conditon;

To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived;

That is to have succeeded.

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