Lent 2020 — Day 37

The Value of Mentors

Letter to a young friend —

I hope this email encourages you to pursue whatever opportunities come your way, and to even seek out new ones that are hidden. Weighing one against another is challenging, but we’ve been hearing a lot about triage with COVID-19. It’s a good model, I think, when rationing your energy and activism. (If you read all the way to the bottom of this email, I will give you some more context.)

I think an email I sent on Sunday after our adult SS class on the Holocaust might be a pro pos here (I’ve highlighted the main sentence):

Friends,

I hope we can get to E______________’s question about “lessons learned” from this historical survey and look to our current times and especially, to the future.

One observation the strikes me is the diversity of opinions and reactions among our forebearers. To the extent they were unified in reacting to or conforming with their cultures, we are very similar. No examples were given that portrayed efforts to become part of leadership and shape events. This is where I see our congregation may have a “duty of care,” to encourage our younger members (under 50?) to prepare themselves for leadership in our democracy. There may be an (Dr.) Anthony Fauci among us. Or an (Gov.) Andrew Cuomo. Or a (Gov.) Gretchen Whitmer. Or a (Mayor) Quinton Lucas. Or a (Gov.) Laura Kelly.

I am thinking of K______________ and J______________ and K______________ and D______________ and T______________, and J______________, A______________, C______________ — who have I left out? R______________! S______________! It’s tempting to just include our whole directory!

We heard how pacifism was largely abandoned by Mennonites who stayed in Europe after the 1870’s. That was a big lesson learned, and not in a good way. Now, in the USA, in our times, shouldn’t we abandon the tradition of non-participation in government and elective politics? Should this not be our challenge?

If the Green New Deal is our best chance for the future of civilization, don’t we owe it to our grandchildren and their grandchildren to fully participate in leading the way?

Next steps? A Rainbow PAC? A Rainbow on-line school for Applied Community Building?

So, if you would like to know more about K or H or E or A— I think you already know L, R and R — I would very much like to introduce you to one or all of them. I could give you a short bio on any of them to help you decide. This is something no one ever did for me, at your age, and I’m operating on the hypothesis that this is why I burned out too young, and why some other people — K, H, E, A, L, R and R — did not, that they each had bona fide mentors at critical times in their young adulthoods.

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