When Adversity Makes Us Stronger

Hey, our kids are angry, as they very well should be. Like Howard Beale in the classic movie “Network,” they are standing up and saying, “We are mad as hell, and we are not going to take this anymore.” THANK GOODNESS! for the voices, the passion, the anger and unfortunately the pain of our kids, who are doing their utmost to move the needle and create the desperately needed change to keep our kids, our teachers, and our school workers safe.

Busloads of students and chaperones made their way to our state capital to meet with elected officials earlier this week and, inspired by their efforts, two national events are scheduled in mid-March in hopes of creating a collective voice for change from a community that feels their voices have not been heard—and quite frankly, that their voices do not matter. These kids are my kids, they are all of our kids, and their safety and their future is our collective responsibility to protect and preserve. So, we need to stand beside them. They who have been and remain in the line of fire has sharpened their voices, and has brought urgency and clarity to one of our simplest values, that of keeping our kids SAFE!. Their calls for change, we should amplify, and we should do everything we can to take their lead to ensure #neveragain.

Where do you find inspiration in times like these? We recently found some in the amazing work being done at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville. We were invited up to brainstorm about how our two organizations could come together to help girls fulfill their own “greatness.” And, as Lonnie Ali reminds us, many times those moments of greatness occur when we are faced with challenges and adversity, for it forces us to ask ourselves an important question: how can I use this to make things better?

The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are working hard to make things better, to focus us all on what is most important in our lives. The need to be safe, to feel secure and to know that our laws serve to protect us, especially the most vulnerable. In the words of Muhammad Ali: “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”

If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit the Muhammad Ali Center, make plans to do it soon. As my colleague Atiya Abdelmalik said, it is not a “bucket list” item it is a “live list” item. We are so excited to be working with them as we inspire girls throughout this country to “be great and do great things.” Stay tuned for details, and we look forward to welcoming the inimitable Ms. Lonnie Ali who will join us this year at Generation W—she’s an inspiration to us all