I'm reading the book "The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace" by Jeff Hobbs. Set in the late 1980s, it describes the life of Robert Peace, who managed to leave his inner-city life in Newark, NJ, and attend Yale University. Unfortunately, he died in a drug-related shooting after he returned to Newark.
In the chapter I just finished, Robert's mother Jackie heroically manages to get her son out of public school and into a Catholic private school. It was a long road for her. She first attended a training program for six months. Sacrificing time with Robert, the program got her into a better paying job. She then took on a second job, and after two years of long days she was finally able to send her son to a private school.
Leading up to this moment, Jackie was concerned about being considered uppity. The author writes "being known by this label meant that you thought you were better than everyone else around you, that you deserved more..." But Jackie wanted her son to be among people "who saw beyond who and where they were."
I put the book down at this point, struck by the idea of seeing beyond who or where you are. I thought about the power and commitment of Jackie's striving. I thought about being uppity.
This week is when most people reflect on themselves and where they're at. We close the door on 2014, and hope the door that's opening in 2015 is somehow better. The secret is that every action and decision we made in 2014 has led us to the very door that's opening tomorrow.
New Year's Eve is the perfect time to remind ourselves that the first step to "better" is to see beyond ourselves. Then, like Jackie, the next step is to take action.