Michael J. Readinger

For months, I have been poring over the responses to the Vision 2030 questions we started asking back in March of 2020. We received 71 responses from 36 individuals or groups that covered 27 pages of type. As the year progressed, the responses took a startling and unsurprising turn. No longer was the focus on all the changes and advances the world would see in the next decade. Instead, there was a clear and palpable desire to just get through the viral pandemic, the plague of systemic racism in our society, and the coming presidential election. Right now! These thoughtful and insightful responses about future visioning clearly indicate just how much we are all needed on the other side of the impending election, of the COVID-19 virus pandemic and, most of all, the pandemic of systemic racism. But, they went even further as there was a clear calling for us all to be ready and prepared for whatever unknowns come our way as we move towards 2030.

Since we left Memphis in March, COVID-19 has shut down the world as we knew it. Our health and human service ministries have faced unprecedented obstacles to care. Virtual business meetings, school, and life celebrations have become the norm. Civil unrest over racist policies and institutions have altered the social, political and economic landscape. Large gatherings and conferences — including the CHHSM Annual Gathering — are all converting to a virtual and online platform. Organizations like CHHSM are looking inward to ensure their policies and people are part of the solution to systemic racism. And, all of this, as partisan politics drive so many Americans further away from solutions to the problems.

Yes, we are all needed on the other side of this time. Whatever may happen and whatever we may experience in the “new normal,” the “now normal” — or whatever times that emerge — will certainly be unlike anything we ever imagined. For that reason, we are all needed. But it will not be enough to be merely present, we must be our best selves, individually and collectively. We must ensure that we are fully charged and have prepared ourselves for the tasks at hand in the months ahead.

How can we be that best person and people with all the uncertainty, the lack of civility, the inability to keep an open mind and heart, and the unrest in our society? It will not be easy, but this is what I intend to do, and I hope you will join me in these steps:

  • Keep yourself healthy physically, emotionally, mentally and socially.
  • Keep yourself informed of the facts at hand today, the lessons of the past and the trends of the future.
  • Keep your commitment to speak out against racism and oppression and be anti-racist in your personal life, in your community and in your organization.
  • Keep yourself and your organization relevant and sustainable by communicating with your constituents about their needs and responding accordingly.
  • Keep yourself well-stocked with energy, ambition, intention and love.
  • Keep yourself connected to those who are your friends as well as those who might be your enemies.
  • Keep an open mind, a welcoming heart, and seek a visionary approach to what may be in the future.
  • Finally, do not try to do these things alone. Together, we are stronger and wiser. Together, it will be easier to navigate the possibilities, learn the answers and find hope rather than despair.

This is a bit of a Sabbath time for us as we wait (think of the season of Advent) for the miracles of the time ahead of us. Use this gift of time well and be sure to keep your proverbial cup full. Remember, you cannot pour from an empty cup! Remain well stocked and be ready to share your vitality with the world when we emerge from this time. Not just this time of unrest, pandemic, racism and political strife, but all the way through to the time we realize a Vision 2030. Be the best you can be. Your family and friends need you. Your organization needs you. The world needs you. We all need you.