Monday, May 29, 2006

Where does the courage come from to fight the un-winnable fight?

Some times when I am getting up in the morning, or driving to work, I am overwhelmed by the magnitude of the obstacles I face in trying to create a system that would connect kids living in poverty with the adult support they need to help them through school and into jobs and careers by age 25.

I was in the Army, but never in combat. So I don’t know what a soldier might feel when he is told to do a job that seems impossible and will lead to almost certain death. I wonder which fear is worse: being in a World War 1 trench and getting ready to charge a enemy across an open battlefield, or driving in a convoy from one location to another and not knowing when and where a roadside bomb is waiting to end your existence.

I’m sure that the fear these brave souls face each morning as they anticipate their day is much greater than mine as I face my day. Yet, I’m not sure that the battles we fight are any more winnable.

Nor am I sure that it is any less important to do battle on foriegn soil than it is to fight for the heart and soul of a young person living in the battlefield of inner-city poverty. Maybe one of the inner-city teens saved by a tutor or mentor will become the leader who finds a way to build peace through different means than invasion or terror.

During the past week, I’ve hosted a conference in Chicago where nearly 200 tutor/mentor leaders of volunteer-based tutoring and/or mentoring programs came together to share ideas. Many connections were made. Many ideas were shared. For example, On Friday, a couple of people from a local college and the leader of a local program, told of how they had met through the conference, and might now work together. This is one of many similar connections. I wonder where I’ll find the help to host the next conference in November.

On June 1 Cabrini Connections will host its annual year end dinner. We have 7 seniors graduating this year. We have three teens and one volunteer going to Ireland in August. I have heard from four different alumni this past year, telling me how important Cabrini Connections was to them. We have 56 teens who will be returning in the 2006-07 program, who will need our continued help next year, and for the next 4-5 years. I wonder where the money will come from.

I take the little victories out of my battles and use them to fuel my everyday courage. I try not to think of the huge obstacles, but focus on what needs to be done -- and what I can do -- in the next few moments. At the end of each day, I look back and see the progress I’ve made. I don’t compare it to the size of the mountain of obstacles ahead.

That’s what keeps me going. I do it because it has to be done.

I honor those other people who have similar perserverance in the face of obstacles and who sacrifice their lives for a noble purpose.

1 comment:

Miguel said...

Thank you for sharing your story. The courage comes from knowing that others are suffering with you. Knowing that we're not alone removes the sting of suffering alone...somehow, we're bound together by common bonds of fighting fear and isolation.

Connectivity is so important. It is the defining moment in our century for people. The more connected we become, the more we reach out even beyond our limited face to face contacts, the more we recognize our common humanity and...divinity.

We have to change ourselves, commit to that change...because we have changed who we are, we change others through our interactions, and our connectivity changes the world.

Thank you again,
Miguel Guhlin