If there’s anything that I’ve learned about love, since I began working with Generation Justice, it’s the importance of believing and acting upon love as a source of empowerment.
On September 14th, a group of Generation Justice members attended the “Celebrating Love” event at the Railyards Market in downtown Albuquerque. This event was all about love and community, which was felt immediately when entering the railyards. There were students from Volcano Vista High School handing out artwork, hugs, and smiles and welcoming everyone to the event. In front of the entrance to the historic railyards building, there was a large white sign with words at the top that read, “What does love look like to you?” Next to the sign, joyous students held colorful markers, encouraging people to draw/write about love. By midday, the sign was covered with beautiful artwork including an octopus, a hummingbird, a drumset, plants, a panda bear, a slice of pizza, and words like, “love is music” and “love is change for the better.”
Generation Justice shines… and so do I
The day began beautifully, until I was told that I was going to be speaking about Generation Justice to the people that packed the market. During our check-in, Roberta informed the group, which included youth members, fellows, and staff, that we had a timeslot to go on stage and talk about Generation Justice. She said, “the people I want to speak are Pauly (her eyes moved around the circle) and Chantel.” My mood took a dive. I’m barely comfortable enough to speak to my team members, much less an entire building filled with people. I said no. I immediately said no. I couldn’t do it.
When the check-in was complete, we split up into our designated groups. Melissa and Izzy took me aside. By this time, my body was already tense and I was on the verge of having a panic attack. “I know how you feel,” they said. Do you? Do you really know how I feel? Anxiety is one of those things that completely separates you from the world. When these attacks arise, it’s just you and your fear. Nothing else exists. They both reassured me that they had my back, and they wouldn’t let me fail. Roberta walked up to us, looked into my eyes, and said, “this is an opportunity for us to honor Generation Justice, and when I looked around the circle, I chose you for this honor.” There’s not much to say after hearing such powerful words of encouragement and support from my GJ family.
The inevitability of the situation was definitely a wake up call. Why has it always been so easy for me to succumb to my fear? We walked back into the building and I was incredibly uncomfortable but, somehow, my fear subsided. What was happening? The fear had never left me like this before. Why now? Was I actually beginning to understand how to embrace an experience?
The MC for the community stage, Cyrus Moses, introduced our group and we walked on stage. Roberta spoke about the importance of the work that we do. As she was speaking, I leaned in to ask Pauly if I could go first. She nodded. What? Why did I do that?! I don’t want to speak to all of these strangers! Why did I volunteer myself to go first? Roberta handed the microphone to Pauly and I reached out to grab it while Pauly pointed at me. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I remember finishing with, “if you love the world and if you love your community, it becomes your responsibility to spread that love.” Whoa… What just happened? *happy tears* (I walked off stage with a huge smile).
What is love?
If there’s anything that I’ve learned about love, since I began working with Generation Justice, it’s the importance of believing and acting upon love as a source of empowerment. Doing this paves the way to not only loving and honoring others, but also loving and honoring yourself. When I was on that stage, speaking to all of those people, feeling their energy as they felt mine, I came to realize something very important: when our actions are coming from a place of love, there is nothing to fear. There is nothing to fear because there will always be people who will reciprocate that love. It seems ironic to be overcome by this lesson on love at an event that is celebrating love, but then again, perhaps that was the purpose in the first place. The truth is, we need more love. Like water, like bravery, like music or green chile chicken enchiladas, you simply can never have enough.