November 10, 2016
Dear Doane Stuart Community
Yesterday, like many, I was beyond surprised at the election results; today I awake to learn of violent anti-Trump rallies in 38 cities around the country. It is our responsibility to uphold the principles of democracy and to remember that the nation exercised our most precious freedom as we went to the polls and voted. That the electoral tally and the popular tally did not indicate the same person is a function of the process designed by our forebears; is also an indication of the divided nation we live in today.
I have several heroes: Mohandas Gandhi, Dr. King, Nelson Mandela – all showed us that non-violence is the best way to change the world. Vandalizing Trump buildings and burning effigies of Mr. Trump does not teach our children optimism for the future and respect in the present — in this case respect of the process that elected our President.
Doane Stuart will continue to be a community that upholds the principles of democracy, that requires mutual respect and civil discourse; that values learning, questioning and critical thinking. Our mission asks us, among other goals, to “educate to social responsibility.” We and our children must dedicate ourselves to keeping informed; to using history to understand the present; and to believing that optimism is the light of the future. We are sensitive to our students and we will provide mature guidance while we learn what this transition will mean for our society, economy and place in the world. Yesterday our lower school students thanked our local veterans for their service and for their part in preserving our freedoms. They understand that freedom is the hallmark of our nation and that those who preserve it are special.
I do not have any special wisdom, and I certainly do not have a crystal ball; I do have a great deal of experience in educating children. We will continue to ask them to respect each other, to use positive language as they settle disputes, (whether over coveted toys or opinions closely held), and we will continue to educate against racism, homophobia, xenophobia and misogyny.
Our larger purpose is to educate young people who will be a force for good in the world, who will use their gifts in service of others and who will always aspire to the best a society can offer. Luckily, we already have a community that provides a safe place to question; to express one’s feelings and to listen carefully to each other. It is going to stay that way.
A friend reminded us of one of our favorite educators: Parker Palmer, sociologist and educator writes the following in Five Habits to Heal the Heart of Democracy:
“Without a community, it is nearly impossible to achieve voice: it takes a village to raise a Rosa Parks. Without a community, it is nearly impossible to exercise the “power of one” in a way that allows power to multiply: it took a village to translate Rosa Parks’ act of personal integrity into social change. In a mass society like ours, community rarely comes readymade. But creating community in the places where we live and work does not mean abandoning other parts of our lives to become full-time organizers. There are many ways to plant and cultivate the seeds of community in our personal and local lives. We must all become gardeners of community if we want democracy to flourish.”
We have a real community, and we will let it provide the comfort we always need, whether dealing with individual grief or national confusion. We do want democracy to flourish.