Learning to Breathe Differently
Chautauqua Institution :: From the President
April 21, 2021
George Floyd and his tragic murder by a person hired to serve and protect have taught us much over the past months. Perhaps most importantly, they have made the simple, involuntary act of breathing a metaphor for privilege.
Those who remain alive and free, empowered with that privilege of breathing, are called to come out of their political and COVID-enforced corners and, in community, rediscover our shared moral, ethical and human compass to inform the future we want in this country — a future that will influence and inform choices made the world over.
While national, state and local leaders must play roles in this rediscovery process, we all have a social responsibility to do something different — not just read about it, or talk about it, or leave it to women, or people of color, or people with disabilities, or the LGBTQIA+ community to be architects of the critical conversations that must take place in our world today. Every person with that privilege of breathing has a role to play.
Be assured, as we prepare to convene Chautauqua’s 148th Assembly, we are dedicating a great deal of time to the examination of Chautauqua’s shared values, and the role we must play in this important work; and how that work starts here — in our own community.
With continuing and mindful prayers for the family and loved ones of George Floyd, we pledge to work for a place of wisdom, fairness and understanding to replace our defaults of ignorance, bias and division. May Mr. Floyd’s death — and those of too many others — not be in vain. May our actions and choices never make it so.
Michael E. Hill