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Nobody’s Going to Steal Our Joy

When did we lose it? That ability to speak or sing our allegiance to our deepest values, our commitments that go beyond a concern for self to a concern for the greater whole, a passion for the greater good?

Did it get eroded through the months of enduring the pandemic? Was it worn away as we watched partisan divides seismically crack this country apart? Or did we succomb to hopelessness as people in high places with no tether to the truth garnered mass support with hate and lies? And a media that covered them, while ignoring the small stories of good happening all around us?

I was almost done writing my blog this week, a good one, about “Living Life as Improv.” Then, I witnessed a speech that made me take my own medicine and put that blog on hold for a week. I heard the sound of higher values being shared on a national platform. I decided to honor that moment, that ringing of values, crying with gratitude as if I’d received a glass of water after a long march and parching thirst.

You can watch the video below. Even if you don’t side with Cory Booker’s politics, listen to how he speaks. I teach presentation skills and I’m sensitive to good rhetoric. Not the dusty old kind of addressing an audience with carefully measured words, but rhetoric that feels fresh, real, and powerful, as if someone is speaking not at me but to me. (I could cite a whole list of what he’s doing right with his pauses, his speaking in threes, his combination of facts and stories and more.)

Booker’s address in the US Senate is now on my list of great talks. He combined a grasp of the facts, intelligent reasoning, a commitment to values, with a capacity to move the heart. Yet, he doesn’t move us like a manipulator. He moves us from the depth of his care, because he himself is being moved. We feel that palpably, energetically. We feel (or I did) that he is listening to something higher than himself, bigger than a concern for himself, like a spirit coming through his words.

He is brave enough to show his vulnerability and his heart.

I cried. So did Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as he spoke in her defense. Seeing her small tears as she listened moved me so much. Booker’s care and truthfulness about African-American history spoke to my soul with its hunger for a better way.

In a vicious political atmosphere, some of us have had to hold our highest values close to our hearts, like precious jewels we didn’t want to see squandered in toxic debates. But our longings for kindness, justice, fairness, and love didn’t go away.

Today, we witness such values at work in the gruesome horrors of the war in Ukraine, where many people say they will fight to the death for their motherland and the right to be free. Their situation is horrific and their level of commitment is stunning, moving, and makes me ache to hear such talk of values in our country, combined with a willingness to sacrifice.

Booker inspires, So does seeing the face of a black, female, talented, courageous, and worthy Supreme Court nominee. I hope that our better angels are listening.

Booker, in his rhetoric, hand on heart, used the phrase “Nobody’s going to steal my joy.” I expanded it to “Nobody’s going to steal our joy.” Because the heart, blessed by reason, facts, and a commitment to a better way, has spoken.
An historic presentation worthy of being watched for its style, substance, and hope.

May the light prevail..

3 Responses

  1. I cried, too, with my hand in the air.
    Nobody’s going to steal my/our joy!
    Thank you for writing this…if you see pins or t-shirts for sale, Let me know!

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