City Year and Gratitude

By: Charlie Rose, Senior Vice President & Dean

As we approach the annual Thanksgiving holiday time, I feel grateful to work at City Year, an institution rooted in communal values which operates with a spirit of cooperation and partnership. I am lucky and privileged to work with colleagues that I respect and admire.  

I am honored to do the work I do all over the United States as well as in the United Kingdom and South Africa.  In this challenging time of global instability and issues of violence and tension in our cities, I am heartened by the foundations of belief that we strive to live up to in our daily work.  

In these challenging times, I am reminded of the quote from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King who said:

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, 
begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. 
Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar, 
but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. 
Through violence you may murder the hater, 
but you do not murder hate. 
In fact, violence merely increases hate. 
So it goes. 
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, 
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. 
Darkness cannot drive out darkness: 
only light can do that. 
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

One of our Founding Stories at City Year is also a touchstone for me in times like these. The concept of Ubuntu: “Ubuntu” (oo-buun-tu) is a shortened version of a Zulu proverb, “Umuntu ngumuntu ngamantu,” which means: “I am a person through other people. My humanity is tied to yours.”  I find myself consistently coming back to this ideal especially in times that seem to cause pain, confusion and hardship.

We can put the spirit of Ubuntu – respect, human dignity, compassion, and community – to work in our daily lives through our interactions with others, from greeting others as we pass them in hallways or on the street, to ensuring that all segments of society are included in social welfare policies so that each person has the means to lead a life of dignity. Ubuntu has the power to help us build an inclusive, respectful, and vibrant community, nation and world.

So at Thanksgiving I count my blessings about the work I do and try to never take for granted that every day I have the opportunity to help in some small way to make our world a better place and to contribute to the greater good.


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