Reflections on Our Time in History - A Message from Dean Nancy Uscher

DC paints huge Black Lives Matter mural near White House. Manuel Balce Seneta.

Jun. 8, 2020

We are living in tumultuous times. Each day thousands of people are marching proudly in the streets of cities and towns, big and small, urban and rural. The crowds are growing. We have come together to turn our grief and heartache for George Floyd and other victims of unspeakable violence and senseless cruelty into an overwhelming outpouring of the human spirit to guide the change that is coming. Even while we worry and wonder if the protests will fuel a new wave of the pandemic, there is such forceful momentum to speak out against injustice that people are willing to take this medical risk. We are witnessing a culture that will no longer tolerate anyone being mistreated for any reason. All of us are showing up – a cross-section of society – to underscore the importance of decency. Our protesters, to a large extent peaceful and hopeful, are saying they have seen enough! Enough brutality, enough excuses, enough denial, enough unfairness, enough unconscious bias, enough bullying, enough eschewing accountability. Our communities want action -- now. They want concrete evidence they are being heard. There are strong voices calling for support for social change, funding for our underrepresented communities, deep respect for every human being, new public safety systems, making sure that those in law enforcement are trained and educated to live by the same moral values that all sectors of society will require of themselves in the days, months and years to come. We are looking for sustainable progress.

It is a time to show deep empathy and to be in touch with our own fragility. It is a time of immense learning. Each of us has an opportunity to contribute to the positive energy that will propel our communities to a better place. The esteemed psychiatrist, writer and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl said: “what matters…is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment.”  This quote has great resonance, for it inspires each of us to make meaning of this remarkable moment in history.