August 04, 2022

POV: The Upside of Being Over It

By Jill Bennett

Over it? Of course! Who wouldn’t be finished with dealing with what feels like a bottomless pit of devastation? I am not going to list all the things that we want to be “over.” That list would be too long—and you, having lived it, are more than familiar with each and every bullet point. Not to mention that any language I use will fall far short of describing the anguish of whichever particular circle of angst you find yourself in on any given day. 

When I say, “I am over it,” I suspect that what I am really sharing is a loss of hope, a sense of dread, some fatigue, and fear that my voice and work, as well as yours, are being drowned out in all the cacophony of the last few years.  

Declaring that I am over “it” doesn’t end “it” for me. Pulling the covers over my head only leaves me in the dark—and all the things that I wish were truly over remain unchanged. And when I finally throw the blanket away, "it” is still there, and if all I do is repeat “I am over it” as some sort of incantation, that if—and only if—said enough times or with enough force or conviction will magically disperse all my concerns for our air, water, communities, and every other societal need, I am only fooling myself. And I am ignoring my role in how we got here—and my responsibility for being part of the solution. 

I am, as of this moment, over saying that I am “over it.” And liberating myself from what is really wishful thinking opens up my world for what’s next. And for me, what’s next is hope. Also for me, hope without action is right next to offering only thoughts and prayers when people need relief from hunger, floods, and other disasters.  

In Dante’s Inferno,* the inscription over the gate of Hell is typically translated as “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here." After passing through this gate, Dante and his guide encounter the Uncommitted—the souls of people who in life took no sides and were only concerned with themselves.  

I see an important lesson in merging the notions of “abandoned hope” and “the Uncommitted.”  I know that you are committed. Each day you demonstrate commitment to your mission by showing up and doing your job. Your work is challenging and often the immediate results are microscopic—only visible weeks, months, years, and even decades from today. Imagining the promise of that shining future is obscured by relentless messages that tell us it’s too late, the fires are too hot, the donors are fatigued, no one is ever going to vote again, and greed always wins.  

Over it? I have only begun to fight. That means continuing to call my elected officials, donating time and money to the causes that touch my heart, and being the best friend I can be to the people in my life—and that includes you. I am not alone, and neither are you. We are integral, important members of the community of nonprofits that believe in change, hope, and commitment. Your progress is sometimes measured in small steps and other times as giant leaps. Adding your hops, leaps, and jumps to all the small steps and giant leaps of the nonprofit community combine to heal and inspire our world one step at a time. 

UNA is here to build that community and to connect you with people who share your hopes and dreams and are committed to making them happen. This year’s UNA Conference: Beyond Passion includes sessions that go beyond equipping you with deeper knowledge and skills—which on their own make the conference worth your time—and features meet-ups (both virtual and online) that connect you with people in your sector, people in your district, and people who, like you, not only believe in commitment to a cause, but live it.  

* Full disclosure: While I have not read Dante’s Inferno, I have watched more than enough episodes of Jeopardy! to feel comfortable referring to this work here.  

Each month, I’ll be sharing some images of people, places, and things that have meaning for me.  My interest in sharing things from my world will ebb and flow, so please send us pictures of what matters to you.

Favorite Dog of the Month: Cal
I don't even want to tell you how many slippers this dog has destroyed!  And despite that, he's still my featured dog for August.

Cal with slipper

This month's favorite spot: Yellowstone National Park
Can you take a bad picture in Yellowstone? 
Yellowstone waterfall