Archived Story

Jessica Sieff: See you on the other side

Published 7:43am Thursday, May 19, 2011

There’s a lot of talk these days centered around the term transition.

On the global scale, we have watched one nation after another explode into hopeful transitions of power, ousting political and governmental leadership. Whether or not those transitions are successful ones, are yet to be seen.

On a social scale, media speculation is heavily focused on Maria Shriver’s own comments about transition shortly before the bombshell breaking story that her husband kept the secret of another child for an entire decade.

“It’s so stressful not to know what you’re doing next,” she said.

The dictionary defines the term as “a passage from one state, stage, subject or place to another.”

Transition is everywhere and we are always in it.

I was reminded of the importance of transition this month in the mark of the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides of 1961.

“A passage from one state” to another indeed, more than a dozen interracial passengers boarded busses in the nation’s capital bound for the south to protest segregation.

It was a journey that should have been met with an open mind. Instead, with a closed fist passengers were met at stops in North Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi with a collective brutality. Beaten, bloodied and jailed.

In that moment, in that transition from one stop to the next, the outcomes were not favorable. But the Freedom Riders continued against a resistance to change.

I can’t help but wonder what would become of our society as it is, now, today, if we displayed such bravery in the face of great change.

Virtue, integrity and character are the riders on our vehicles of transition.

See you on the other side.

From marriages that end to changes in leadership at the workplace, to students entering a new school, or new classroom, it is important — imperative, that we embrace transition, feel it in all its pain and anxiousness and not shy away from it.

This week, the Niles Community Schools district voted to reopen Eastside Elementary School. I still remember the level of emotion that erupted from the Eastside neighborhood when the school closed. The relief its rooms would once again welcome students was clear in the applause that followed the district’s vote.

Without critiquing the decision itself, there are obvious needs for space and for revising the state of education, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was an important message being lost.

No doubt, this is a teachable moment. We can teach how it’s possible to create change. But we must also teach that sometimes we must change with the possible.

Yes, it is difficult when we’re no longer in our comfort zones. When we’re forced to face the unfamiliar. But it is possible that tragedies will befall us, that the landscapes of our neighborhoods and our schools will look quite different than they once did.

And it’s possible no amount of fight we give, despite the force in that fight, will turn back those hands of time. Certain things just aren’t the same. Some buildings will close and not reopen.

But the one constant is hope and in that hope, a little bravery that we can re-imagine and re-emerge.

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