I haven’t been able to assemble many words since November, so I’m grateful for those who have. On the one hand, thoughtful rhetoric and reasoned language seem increasingly discounted and disdained as core values. On the other, talk seems empty when focused and persistent action is so clearly required.
I was particularly grateful to Rip Rapson and the words he assembled for his keynote to the NEA’s placemaking event in DC in December. Within that speech he shared the essential values of the Kresge Foundation that have forged their work and will drive their actions. For now, I’ll just say: “me too, let’s go!”
- “We stand for the elevation of our shared destiny, not for an invidiously corrosive social, economic, and political ethic that enshrines individualism and self-advancement as the ultimate public virtue.
- “We stand for deep, abiding, authentic respect for one another’s worth and decency, not for a denigration and marginalization — indeed demonization — of those whose skin pigment, physical conditions, sexual orientation, gender, or faith differs from our own.
- “We stand for the benefits of working in true partnership with individuals and organizations allied in common purpose for the advancement of the public good and the promotion of structures of mutual assistance, not for a hunkering down into silos of fear that attempt to deny the forces of equity and social change and wall off compassion for the less fortunate.
- “We stand for the imperative of a creative problem-solving that calls on community wisdom, intergenerational exchange, and principled disagreement, not for the false comfort of facile judgments about complex, interconnected problems or the bombastic certitude of rhetorical hyperbole.
- “And we stand for opportunity structures that dismantle, and substitute for, the persistent and pervasive racial, economic, and political barriers that so shamefully impede pathways to equality and justice for low-income people and people of color, not for the enshrinement of those barriers in public policy and the perpetuation of racial and ethnic division.”