Years ago, Walt Disney said, “Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious … and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” I heard the quote again a few weeks ago, and it really made me reflect on myself and think about the kinds of progress that I have made within my life.
I recently spoke with one of my teachers, who grew up here in Suffield. They told me that nothing had changed since they had grown up here, which really got me thinking. Sure, returning to your hometown after fifteen, maybe twenty years and seeing that things have stayed the same would be extremely nostalgic for some people, but I disagree. If nothing has changed, it means no progress has been made.
The dictionary definition of the word progress is as follows: forward or onward movement toward a destination.
That’s not a very menacing definition, now is it?
It seems like a simple definition, but some people are afraid of change. Some people are afraid of progress. It’s so easy to stay stuck and to keep moving in circles. We need to create changes for inclusivity, within the school district, within the town of Suffield and within ourselves.
That sort of progress takes time to implement. That is the sort of progress that is met with a lot of, “We’ve always been like this, why would we change now?” and “This is not a problem that concerns us.”
However, I urge everyone in Suffield to realize that progress is not a dirty word. Change is not a dirty word. We must embrace change with open arms, rather than trying to resist and skirt around it. We cannot ignore progress. We either progress with the times, or we will be left behind.
The only way to make progress is by taking action. We all have the power to help Suffield reach its full potential.
I know that this kind of progress will take a long time. I know that it will not be an easy journey.
But I also know that I am not the only one willing to make those kinds of changes. I know that I have friends, family and community members who have my back. I hope to work with them all, to create necessary change in Suffield. So far, the ABAR (Anti-Bias, Anti-Racist) community has worked to create diverse changes within the town of Suffield. School-wise, the group Voices United, which is based in both the middle school and high school ,attempts to create a more diverse school environment. I know that together, we have the ability to create the kind of community that Suffield deserves to be.
The whole idea of change can definitely be scary. But we need to persevere through that fear. We need to be hopeful that change will be for the better.
Throughout my journey of self discovery, I’ve realized that hope is one of the most powerful weapons I have. Throughout my work at the high school and within town, I have never given up hope, no matter how much pushback I’ve gotten, no matter the judgment I’ve received.
Hope is a powerful tool and one that I use to my advantage every single day. I have hope that we can be forces for change.
I have hope that we can make progress. I have hope that things can get better, that things will get better. And sometimes, hope is all we need.