Shared Strength

I worry too, about the kids, so separated and spending so much time in front of computer screens; about families, facing challenges greater than any could have expected and uncertainty like none of us have ever known; about my teachers and staff, working so hard to help students, but asked to do work in a way unlike any they’d prepared for or ever imagined. Around us all the world spins, emotions high, anxiety real, all of us knowing how much we don’t know and many of us just trying hard not to imagine the worst.

As a principal I get calls and read emails from students, parents, and teachers, all of whom seem to be feeling the pressure and are looking for ways to make things better.

I’m not usually one for inspirational quotes, but the other day I spotted a post by an assistant principal at a school where I once worked. We’ve never met, but I enjoy her window into a world I’m happy exists and still count myself fortunate to have been a small part of. The quotation she shared was a line from Titilayo Tinubu Ali that read: “Let’s normalize needing support and start calling it shared strength.”

Shared strength. What a great way of looking at this possibility, this need, this call to action.

Because we need each other. To find answers to the isolation so easy to feel in this time of pandemic, we need each other. To combat systemic racism and change the world around us to treat everyone fairly and well, we need each other. To face the sadness that the news prompts every time we turn it on, to turn anger and frustration into hope and a belief that things will get better, we need each other.

Together we have the capacity to provide the support we need, and I hope, as that quotation suggests, we can allow ourselves to ask for (and offer without asking) each other that support. Alone we do not have all the answers; together we won’t have all the answers, but we will have more of them. That shared strength will allow us to come through these difficult times together.

It reminds me of one of the most precious memories I have from that school now in the hands of that assistant principal I have never met. A senior and I were asked to emcee an all school assembly and we ended the show by singing the Blues Brother’s tune “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love.”

I’ve written about it before (here, where you can even see a couple of photos) and I honestly believe that the spirit of the song’s lyrics are what we all need to hear today.

“We do sincerely hope you’ll all enjoy the show, and please remember people, that no matter who you are, and what you do to live, thrive and survive, there are still some things that make us all the same. You, me, them, everybody, everybody.”

For the shared strength that will help all of us live, thrive, and survive right now, and we need the support of one another (you, you, you), we need to know that strength comes from all of us together.

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