This question inspired me to record the following thoughts onto paper in hopes that I can explain to her why I feel it’s so important to keep that pin on and always close to my heart.
Tom, Sheillah, and Addys are gifted, generous, tenacious, and forward thinking individuals. They ran an amazing campaign, which was simply a natural extension of the public service work that they engage in every day in advocating for Hoboken’s learners. They traversed across our square mile, engaging families and community members, with a powerful message and vision.
The vision that they articulated is one that is based on inclusivity and equity. In South Africa, Archbishop Desmond Tutu often speaks of the tenet of 'ubuntu' -- the idea that I am who I am because of you, you are who you are because of me. To our American ears, that may sound like a utopian dream, but really it’s a reminder that our lives are all intertwined and that at the end of the day, we are all responsible for one another.
My favorite moments in history mirror and reflect this vision of interconnectedness, this call to action to believe in and act upon something bigger than our own narrow and often base self interests: women organizing at Seneca Falls, the Stonewall uprising, and students working to integrate lunch counters in Greensboro.
These are the moments that have sparked social movements and have changed our nation’s consciousness forever.
To me, the reach higher button is a representation of a special moment in Hoboken’s history that inspired our town to think not just about our own children and families, but to advocate on behalf of a whole community.
One person alone can never represent Hoboken -- we are all Hoboken. We -- the people, we -- the collective, we -- the community. We are all Hoboken. The children of Jackson Street, the children of Bloomfield Street, the children of Hudson Street, and the children on Monroe and the adults who care about them. We are all Hoboken.
In this post election season, the work we face now is not easy and probably will never be done.
But if we must labor in honor of a vision of equity, inclusivity, and justice and push a boulder up a mountain like Sisyphus did -- that to me is a vision absolutely worth struggling for: despite the setbacks and disappointments that we will surely face. Because even though the tasks may seem insurmountable, there are breakthroughs and moments of hope that keep us going and actually make a difference in people’s lives. President Obama said: “One of the things that I’ve learned to appreciate more as President is you are essentially a relay swimmer in a river full of rapids, and that river is history...You don’t start with a clean slate, and the things you start may not come to full fruition on your timetable. But you can move things forward. And sometimes the things that start small may turn out to be fairly significant."
So, to my darling daughter, I will not be taking off my Reach Higher button anytime soon because it is a reminder of the work that awaits us, of the vision that guides us, the North Star that inspires us to do better, to do right for Hoboken and beyond."