Autumn Views: Radical Love Podcast

I spend a lot of time thinking about love. Not the kind that makes you flush or creates butterflies in your stomach. Love that prompts actions to improve lives for others. Love that drives the work to bring equity and inclusion to all people. I believe that practicing love, and upholding the dignity of all humans, are foundational to making our communities better and to our mission at St. Anne’s-Belfield.

When I taught U.S. History, I spent a good deal of energy trying to convince my students that anyone can be a hero. We encountered countless men and women of different backgrounds, and my students would identify characteristics that made them effective leaders. What we learned is that the great heroes and sheroes of U.S. History were not extraordinary humans; they simply had extraordinary love for humankind, which led them to do extraordinary acts.

Listen to the Radical Love podcast

We have come to a point in our nation’s journey where we must find the extraordinary love within each of us. Over 490,000 people have been killed by COVID. That is more than three times the number of people who live in Charlottesville and Albemarle County. There was a literal attempt to disrupt the democratic process with an attempted siege of the National Capitol on Jan. 6. Almost every week, we read about black and brown people being murdered because of assumptions about their intent to be violent. Racist violence against Asian Americans has increased exponentially, perpetrated by those looking for an "other" to blame for the coronavirus disease. We have detention centers filled with toddlers and small children, who were stripped from their mothers’ arms, because of an irrational fear of people who come from other countries. People who don’t align with traditional identity concepts suffer to find ways to belong in their schools, communities, and families. And our environment has been ravaged by out-of-control greed and ignorance that will forever change our food supply, the water we drink, and the air we breathe.

There is a tidal wave of pain so many people are experiencing right now. We must disrupt the hate and replace it with love. The former president of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and U.S. Congressman, John Lewis, guided those who want to get into "good trouble” with these words:

You are a light. You are the light. Never let anyone — any person or any force — dampen, dim, or diminish your light. Release the need to hate, to harbor division, and the enticement of revenge. Release all bitterness. Hold only love, only peace in your heart, knowing that the battle of good to overcome evil is already won.

I believe our students — each of them — will become exemplary citizens and visionary leaders. The kind of citizens and leaders who will right social wrongs. They can and will solve environmental, social, political, and economic problems with human-centered solutions developed and delivered with love. They will become their generation’s John Lewis or Amanda Gorman or Elizabeth Cady Stanton or Harvey Milk or Dennis Banks or Cesar Chavez or Greta Thunberg. All I ask is that they get into "good trouble" in the name of love.


Autumn Graves

Head of School


    St. Anne's-Belfield School