The Bigger Picture

This is Why We Do

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An Open Letter to an Our Human Family Reader

Dear Reader,

Thank you for your thoughtful and gracious letter regarding the efforts of the Our Human Family writers and editorial staff. I’m sure you didn’t know the email address to which you submitted your letter would lead back to me.

First, thanks for joining us for the ride. Building and managing this publication from scratch has certainly been a journey of learning and personal growth for me. I’ve learned to trust God a bit more. You know, “Make your petitions known” and “Lean not on your own understanding.” Those tenets may seem rudimentary — but the rubber hits the road when I’ve found myself faced with the option to either trust and wait and see what Providence has in store OR to try and force things to happen and fall flat on my face. Choosing the former is becoming a lot easier.

I’m learning that despite all the plans I can devise and contingencies I can put in place, the unexpected can always pop up. And when the unexpected pops up and I don’t freak out, help always arrives in time in the form of writers with stories to share or friends with insights that help me navigate situations. This leads to another lesson: I can’t control anything . . . which has another lesson tucked inside it like one of those Russian nesting dolls. The lesson: not to take things personally, even when I’m the person unexpected things happen to.

All the writers I’ve worked with are wonderful people. Each and every one of them brings their unique experiences, gifts, talents, and perspectives with their stories. Part of it may be that it takes a special type of person to want to write around the theme of equality, especially now. Many of them are superior writers due to either the number of years they’ve been writing or as evidenced by the degrees they’ve earned. Some are new writers. This is not to infer that new writers are lesser writers. What it simply says is that they are new to the art, but their works contain a freshness, a tenderness of heart, a strength, and a sense of compassion that appeals to me. I hope these qualities are evident to readers. And they continually teach me something new about the world, the people in it, and how I fit into it as well.

In exchange, I try to give to them a clearer, crisper version of their stories and share with them practices I’ve picked up along the way from my writing mentors, acting coaches, professors, and mentors. Little things about storytelling, relating to people, or classic principles of design common to all art. You know, for instance like stripping away all excess to find the essence of a piece. Think: Michelangelo and his thoughts about the purpose of sculpting: to free the work of art within the slab of marble. My goal is to help them whittle away the dross without harming the sculpture or stifling their voice, emotion, or intention.

I hope that after sitting with a few articles, readers can sense the ethos that runs through each article we bring them. It’s the notion that we are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.

Amid this current national darkness, the hate-filled speech made manifest in cruelty, psychological and emotional trauma, and even murder, I know people can change. I’ve seen them change.

People change:

  1. When they know change is possible
  2. When they want to change
  3. When they know how to change

Yes, it is a bold statement. But it’s also a true statement. Think of where Black, Indigenous, People of Color, Women, LGBTQ people, and People Living with Disabilities were fifty, one hundred years ago compared to where we are today. Okay, you can go back as recently as before this white nationalist regime came to power. True, this union is far from perfect, but it’s better than it was. Yes, we’ve been dragged backward. And we have a long way to go. But look how far we’ve come. We’ve come too far to turn back, give up hope, or cede an inch to the powers of hate. Love, resistance, and standing up for what’s right will always be stronger than the xenophobia seeping out of Washington, DC.

Facts matter. Marginalized people matter. Our stories matter. This country was built on our stories. That’s why I still do this.

To ignore hate is to empower it.
—James Baldwin

I’ve witnessed and know people who have moved from a racist worldview to one that is inclusive, egalitarian, and loving. This publication touts the inherent value of all human beings. My personal goal is to present these truths to readers:

  • The truth that once you see the humanity in another person, you can never unsee it.
  • The truth that racism, misogyny, homophobia, and countless other -isms and -phobias can be undone in the hearts and minds of people.
  • The truth that despite what we see in the news there are thousands of people who are working to make the world a better place for all in our human family.

Thank you for your support, your time, and your encouragement. And remember to keep your arms and legs inside the moving vehicle at all times.

Love one another.

Clay Rivers
Our Human Family, Founder and Editorial Director