How do you do good folks,
This is the 36th edition of Making Connections, where we take a random (illustrated) walk down tech, fitness, product thinking, org design, nerd culture, persuasion, and behavior change.
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🖼 Visual: Feel the Fear
Our country is turning a new chapter. We’ve been through a lot and we’re still going through a lot. But we don’t get through this unless we all do what we can. And that means doing the scary thing, if we know it’s right.
🧠 Thought: The Hill We Climb
Instead of quoting from an article, today I thought I would just share the full text of Amanda Gorman’s moving, lyrical, historically poignant inaugural poem. Take a moment to (re)watch this 5 mins of history. I’ve bolded some really lovely parts and have thoughts below.
When day comes, we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry. A sea we must wade.
We braved the belly of the beast.
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace, and the norms and notions of what “just” is isn’t always justice.
And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it.
Somehow we do it.
Somehow we weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.
We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one.
And, yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect.
We are striving to forge our union with purpose.
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.
And so we lift our gaze, not to what stands between us, but what stands before us.
We close the divide because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside.
We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another.
We seek harm to none and harmony for all.
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true.
That even as we grieved, we grew.
That even as we hurt, we hoped.
That even as we tired, we tried.
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious.
Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.
Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid.
If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made.
That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb, if only we dare.
It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit.
It’s the past we step into and how we repair it.
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation, rather than share it.
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.
And this effort very nearly succeeded.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.
In this truth, in this faith we trust, for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us.
This is the era of just redemption.
We feared at its inception.
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour.
But within it we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves.
So, while once we asked, how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe, now we assert, how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be: a country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free.
We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation, become the future.
Our blunders become their burdens.
But one thing is certain.
If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.
So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left.
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.
We will rise from the golden hills of the West.
We will rise from the windswept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution.
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states.
We will rise from the sun-baked South.
We will rebuild, reconcile, and recover.
And every known nook of our nation and every corner called our country, our people diverse and beautiful, will emerge battered and beautiful.
When day comes, we step out of the shade of flame and unafraid.
The new dawn balloons as we free it.
For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.
As someone who loves words, there is so much to appreciate about this poem. It’s definitely drawn from the patterns and rhythms of spoken word. There’s the repeated phrase: (“Somehow we..”) The reversal of a phrase, formally known as a chiasmus (“prevail over catastrophe … catastrophe prevail over us”). The restating of a phrase in a more hopeful way (“form a union that isn’t perfect … forge a union with purpose”). The end and internal rhymes, the alliteration. Enough repetition in words and phrasing to feel rhythmic but enough pattern breaking to keep you guessing.
All of it is *chef’s kiss*
In an interview with Anderson Cooper, Amanda shared how she was researched previous inaugural poems, reviewing speeches by Frederick Douglas, Lincoln and others and in the middle of all that, we had the Capitol Hill riot / break-in. It would have been easy to make the entire poem about that, but an inaugural poem should stand the test of time, and I felt she wove that moment in elegantly.
She also shared that even through college, she was struggling with speech issues, in particular her “r’s”. You can see in her poem “Earthrise” from 2 years ago that she’s still making progress in her pronunciation. What I love is that she has worked hard to improve on her skills here, while not letting it stop her from performing publicly.
👉 Check out: Vector Creator
These days, having access to a graphic library is not enough. You want to be able to put together your own custom scenes. I really like Icon8’s Vector Creator, which lets you mix and match illustrations and download a scene that you can export (at web-quality resolution) for free. Obviously for serious designers who need higher-res versions there are paid plans.
Check on someone you care about,
Jason Shen | Cultivating Resilience Newsletter
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