You might be tired of hearing about the legacy of Congressman John Lewis, but I’m writing this four days after his death, inspired by his life, and can’t think of another topic. If you are tired of hearing it, just don’t read me this week.
Good mental health is complicated yet simple and basic. John Lewis’ tributes portrayed a man to model. What people said about him, plus what he was quoted as saying, show his passion for peacefully righting wrongs in the arena of equality. According to people who knew him, he never faltered. Every day, with an authentic kindness and willingness to get into “Good trouble” John Lewis earned the title of, “A
giant. A legendary leader. A civil rights icon. A human saint.”
I’m not going to site the following quotes because I don’t want politics dismissing the message. The quotes are from both sides of the aisle, and I share them because of their mental health significance.
“Mr. Lewis was unworried. He told me, ‘We will win, and young people will lead the way. Be hopeful. Be optimistic. Be brave.’”
“He endured hatred and violence. But he kept working, because he was convinced that our nation had to be better.”
“He never lost his youthful joy and passion for democracy.”
I visited with a woman who was worried about a male friend. Treated unjustly, he was outraged. His negative attitude affected relationships, employment, and life’s enjoyment. He was mad at the world and she wanted to help him.
A John Lewis quote came to my mind: “When you see something that is not right, not just, not fair, you have a moral obligation to say something. To do something. Our children and their children will ask us, ‘What did you do? What did you say?’”
“If you’re not hopeful and optimistic, then you just give up. You have to take the long hard look and just believe that if you’re consistent, you will succeed.”
He fell into a victim role and needed to speak up and appropriately do something to fix it. Even if his words and actions didn’t change the story, it would help him move forward and get unstuck from the muck of anger fed by injustice.
One of the many John Lewis quotes resonating with me: “We are one people with one family. We all live in the same house… and through books, through information, we must find a way to say to people that we must lay down the burden of hate. For hate is too heavy a burden to bear.”
My most favorite, an important one for this year: “The vote is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have.”
“May he forever rest in power.”
Until the next time: Live while you live.
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