“Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.” ~ Pope John XXIII
Wonder Woman, Marietta Watts, convened Humanity Academy grads for lunch again today. We were a small but mighty crowd, but make no mistake, the conversations were no less powerful. I’ve probably said this before, but it’s worth repeating: the University of Kentucky is damn lucky to count Marietta among its ranks. Her spirit is boundless. When I look around a room of HA grads, I marvel at the complexity of the personalities sitting shoulder to shoulder and being happy to be there. One of the most important things said today was that HA grads, as attendees, come to the program with open hearts. Not everyone agrees, not everyone should, but what happens after a week of coming face to face with our preconceived notions of who we think other people are is a deep understanding that we are all just human beings. Every label, every stigma, every negative thought we hold about others different from us, and even about ourselves, are products of some weird socialization that’s gone horribly wrong. It has nothing to do with our basic needs as human beings. HA grads learn to talk about the elephants in the room. Most importantly we learn to listen. Humanity Academy is a gift from Marietta and I’m so grateful Stacy Yelton nominated me to participate a decade ago. I’ve made lifelong friends from HA, and so many of my other UK colleagues are members as well, like Renee Collins (smiling), Marie Dale (head turned listening to Marietta), and Judy Sackett (way on the back), who, I learned today, was in the HA pilot program in 2006. It is amazing how good I feel about myself, and about being a UK employee, when I leave the company of our HA meetings. That is power in the most wonderful way. Thank you, Marietta, for being a light in this world.