We are living in the most worrisome, uncertain and swiftly changing time in our lives. Many of us find it hard to take a break from the unfolding pandemic, even for an evening. All of us have been personally affected in some way — if only by shelter-in-place orders and endless hours online. Others are coping with illness, grievous loss and worry about this month’s rent and future economic security. While no one is exempt, some members of our Temple community have been and will be hit much more severely than others.
How can our Temple Law community to come together and not only survive, but thrive? Two key values can help us through. First, we can each take responsibility to our collective well-being. Reach out to support each other, if only to listen. Second, we need the courage to be vulnerable. We can let others know that we need their aid. Responsibility and vulnerability further each other.
I’ve learned first-hand the power of support from the Temple Law community. In the past few years, I cared for my beloved parents through their decline, mourned their passing, and then encountered my own serious health issues. I shared these challenges with my colleagues and students and discovered that opening my own vulnerability to others led to two remarkable responses.
My students and colleagues surrounded me with emotional support and practical assistance. My wonderful Section 2 Torts and seminar students rallied around me throughout these trials. Teaching them was my respite from loss and illness, and their full engagement kept carrying me back into my love of teaching. Colleagues and students cheered me on, sent kind notes, let me know they valued my efforts. When I couldn’t teach, my amazing colleagues taught as needed, and my students stepped up and led thought-provoking class discussions that focused us on how family laws and policies treat our most vulnerable populations in this challenging time. They made our work together matter.
There was more. Making my own vulnerability visible gave my students and colleagues permission to be vulnerable themselves, to give me the chance to care for them. Every member of our community can both give and receive support, as needed, to help us through this turbulent time.
The greater Temple Law community is resilient and caring. The Temple community has already come together to begin funding a Law Student Emergency Fund. Together, we can also provide mentoring and networking for students and alumni facing difficult transitions. Please be brave enough to reach out to us at the Law School if you need help; let us offer assistance. We can also extend this support past our own community. We have been proud to see our students not only support each other, but also find ways to aid the larger community through public service.
These most challenging of times reminds us of our community’s power to sustain each other. Let’s face this together.