Photo by USA Today
The six minutes that 22-year old Amanda Gorman spoke at the Biden/Harris Inauguration took my breath away. Not only is she the youngest person to receive the poet-laureate when she was only 16, but now she is also the youngest person to recite her poem at a U.S. presidential inauguration. (Full transcript below)
I am moved beyond words at the courage of this young artist who can command the world stage with her words of unity.
"We will not march back to what was but move to what shall be A country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free"
It is these young brave individuals who are bigger than their dreams. They take the bull by the horns and aren't afraid to take action. Destructive emotions such as fear, doubt and worry don't hold space in their being.
Amanda Gorman isn't the only young person in our very recent history who is brave enough to speak out against injustices and make the world listen. At the age of 15, Swedish climate activist, Greta Thunberg, chastised world leaders at the 2018 United Nations Climate Action Summit for failing younger generations by not taking sufficient steps to stop climate change. "You have stolen my childhood and my dreams with your empty words."
In October of 2012, another 15-year-old activist, Malala Yousafzai, was shot by the Taliban on a bus on her way home from school for speaking out for the education rights of women and girls in her home country of Pakistan. The murder attempt received worldwide media coverage and produced an outpouring of sympathy and anger. Protests against the shooting were held in several Pakistani cities the day after the attack, and over 2 million people signed the Right to Education campaign's petition, which led to the ratification of the first Right to Education Bill in Pakistan. She later won the Nobel Prize.
These young women are only the tip of the iceberg. There are young people all over the world speaking out for human rights and against injustices. As Amanda Gorman said, "There is always light if only we're brave enough to see it."
Our mindfulness programs for youth are designed to help these young individuals clear the limiting and self-deprecating beliefs from their minds and embrace their own gifts. We help them to discover their unique light that will illuminate their own personal path to greatness.
The youth of today are our future for a better tomorrow. Those of us who work with them every day - from parents to teachers to counselors - we are their guiding light. Let's honor and cherish these gems for the good of all humanity.
Check out our two Mindfulness in Motion for Youth workshops in February to give teens a head-start on emotional wellness and discovering their unique and magnificent light. CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE and REGISTER.
The Hill We Climb
When day comes we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade? The loss we carry, a sea we must wade We've braved the belly of the beast We've learned that quiet isn't always peace And the norms and notions of what just is Isn’t always just-ice And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it Somehow we do it Somehow we've weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken but simply unfinished We the successors of a country and a time Where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president only to find herself reciting for one And yes we are far from polished far from pristine but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect We are striving to forge a union with purpose To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us but what stands before us We close the divide because we know, to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another We seek harm to none and harmony for all Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true: That even as we grieved, we grew That even as we hurt, we hoped That even as we tired, we tried That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious Not because we will never again know defeat but because we will never again sow division Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree And no one shall make them afraid If we’re to live up to our own time Then victory won’t lie in the blade But in all the bridges we’ve made That is the promise to glade The hill we climb If only we dare It's because being American is more than a pride we inherit, it’s the past we step into and how we repair it We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy And this effort very nearly succeeded But while democracy can be periodically delayed it can never be permanently defeated In this truth in this faith we trust For while we have our eyes on the future history has its eyes on us This is the era of just redemption We feared at its inception We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour but within it we found the power to author a new chapter To offer hope and laughter to ourselves So while once we asked, how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe? Now we assert How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us? We will not march back to what was but move to what shall be A country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation Our blunders become their burdens But one thing is certain: If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left with Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west, we will rise from the windswept northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states, we will rise from the sunbaked south We will rebuild, reconcile and recover and every known nook of our nation and every corner called our country, our people diverse and beautiful will emerge, battered and beautiful When day comes we step out of the shade, aflame and unafraid The new dawn blooms as we free it For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it If only we’re brave enough to be it
Author, Phyllis Smith, is the Co-founder and CEO of Live Free Yoga, which provides yoga and mindfulness programs for youth and adults who serve them. She is also the co-creator of Lighter Being, a transformative mindfulness video series to help you find more balance, self-love, and a lighter state of being.