By Ayisha Elliott
With the passing of John Lewis, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Chadwick Boseman, Kobe Bryant and more, it has felt like a loss of greatness, a loss of connection, like pillars fallen. I don’t know these people, but they were all symbols of something, and it’s different for everyone. Each created tangible change that benefited others. They were consistent, steadfast, focused.
With the fires, the relentless smoke, painful loss, devastating genocide, rampant racism and, of course, the consistency of COVID, it’s hard to find strength for the upcoming election. We don’t know what’s happening. The what if’s are almost paralyzing. Fear is at its height, and we all know there’s more to come.
This is why the memory of the people we lost this year is critical. It’s critical because they each were a symbol of purpose. Read their stories, not just what we know of them on social media, but who and why they lived their respective lives.
Purpose. It’s the hardest thing to understand because there is no set of instructions. It’s the age-old question: What is life all about?
In a healthy Black community, Black household, Black friendship, we are taught and challenged that we are here for a very specific purpose. This is how we face relentless racism. This is how we accept the fact that Black people are expected to not only match white expectations of knowledgeable contribution but to be better than our counterparts to even be heard. Our collective reality in this society is with poignant purpose. Our fight is about value and respect.
Each person individually and collectively has a purpose, whatever it may be. I want to share the purpose of Black resolve. We are taught that we are not here for others, but by others, of others, to serve within our purpose, each other. An understanding of the greater good is essential. The wellbeing of our families, our men, our children, through doubt, through fear, through violence, through despair. The collective wellbeing as a whole. It requires the acknowledgment of a healthy relationship with change, with grief.
We focus on the development of our purpose as if it is our lighthouse in the fog. I lend this piece of perspective to guide us through the fog of 2020.
We all have a purpose. It doesn’t have to be grand, it doesn’t have to influence the masses, it doesn’t have to make the news. We just have to get up every day and work for the greater good of ourselves, our families, our neighbors. We have the greater purpose within us. You are needed in this world. We all have a purpose.
Your purpose may be to learn; open your ears. Your purpose may be to listen; quiet your mouths. Your purpose may be to grow; accept your opportunities, easy and difficult. When each meaningful effort has the intention of purpose, for the greater good, we will overcome, and we will persevere.
Ayisha Elliott’s podcast Black Girl From Eugene is raw and uncensored monologues and conversations about living while Black in the PNW. Listen locally at 11 am Sundays on FB Live; simulcast on KEPW 97.3 FM. Audio found on all major podcasting platforms.