Modified on: February 28, 2019

“It’s like you have a sun inside your brain!” I exclaimed.

My daughter beamed. After much hard work and many practice tests, she had aced her weekly spelling quiz. She had done it, and it was time to celebrate.

The gift of intellect is irreplaceably precious. It is worth the work, arduous at any grade level, required to develop our ability to think. The rewards are endless: the tasks good ideas can equip us to accomplish are themselves mind-boggling. In Enlightenment Now, a defense of reason and its successes, Steven Pinker charts the progressive improvement of human societies by virtue of the power of thinking. To stop and think, to ask questions and research outcomes and reflect on strategies, guides wise decision-making and expands our resourcefulness.

That is the life-story of the Grimke sisters. Born into a slave-holding family in Charleston, SC in the early 1800s, Sarah and Angelina Grimke witnessed the brutal treatment of enslaved people by their own family. And they thought about what they saw. And they sought another way.

Against the will of their family and their city—indeed, of their whole culture—the Grimke sisters supported each other to become leading abolitionists and women’s rights activists. They traveled the country to advocate for a more just society, pushing themselves and their contemporaries—even the most progressive of their day—to consider much more profoundly what equal rights and fair treatment could be.

In other words, they thought their way to freedom.

So often, we tear one another down. And we do it to ourselves, calling ourselves stupid, imagining ourselves incapable of finding a better way forward, toward what we wish life could be, if only—

We don’t have to do that. Other people will do it for us plenty.

The banners in our Sanctuary this month shower us with the best advice:

Love One Another.
Build Each Other Up.

Praise the brilliant minds of those around you. Praise them, and watch the light within them grow. Praise them, and feel the strangely growing light within you too.



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