Updated: Aug 22
This is a personal post, which may or may not reflect others’ views, but may find some resonance in each of us engaged in Waldorf Education.
This is the last day of our second week of online conferences, and this same week, John Lewis, a lifelong civil rights non-violent warrior, was laid to rest. He wrote an essay to be published the day of his funeral, and this reminded me again why I value Waldorf Education so highly.
I was privileged to meet John Lewis once. He was a panelist in a conference I attended a few years ago. I grew up in Europe and was unfamiliar with the detailed history of the Civil Rights movement but I was impressed by the calm centeredness of this older man. He was there not to impress or to instruct, but to listen and to share. I stood in line to shake his hand at the end of the session. I clearly remember him, and was very moved by his presence.
This week, I have been learning more about his life. His mother encouraged him to learn as much as he could - because no-one could take away what a person has learned. He was a teenager when he took on the discipline and training of non-violence and repeatedly risked his life to stand up for what was right. He was the youngest speaker (age 23) at the March on Washington. He was 25 when he was beaten and bloodied, and nearly killed crossing the Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. This lifelong commitment began when he was the age of our middle school and high school students. A young friend of his, a 12 year old boy, spoke eloquently at his funeral.
In the essay he wrote shortly before his death, to be published on the day of his funeral, these words spoke to me about why I work, in my own way, to bring Waldorf Education to as many young people as possible. I encourage you to investigate the founding impulses of Waldorf Education 100 years ago in a divided and alienated post First World War Europe.
"Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.
When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war. So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide."
I encourage you to read the full text from the New York Times: