December 14, 2017
I visited Ojai recently with my wife and we decided to go to Sunday service in Spanish at a nearby church. The congregation was beautifully diverse and incredibly welcoming.
We ended up seated behind a family with two young girls who were eight or nine years old. I remember thinking to myself "Who would want to put these two through hardship or threaten their family and futures?" There we were, in a church, honoring the belief that each of us deserves kindness and support, listening to words that affirm that every human life has intrinsic worth — yet still knowing that beyond those doors, the world is not that simple for them nor that kind.
Recognizing where we are in our current political and social environment requires us to maintain faith — faith in one another and in the fact that we must continue forward. At the Foundation, we see the challenges in front of us, embrace our responsibility to those around us, and believe in what's possible for the future of California. This requires us to shift our perspective to focus more on people and communities instead of just the systems that serve them. Despite their kaleidoscopic complexity, communities uphold us, especially when we’re faced with forces that attempt to deter and divide us.
Together with our partners, we are learning and listening to better understand the realities of our most vulnerable communities. For children, immigrants, women, and many others who withstand the weight of past traumas and present prejudices, we must be willing to bear witness to their experiences and work together to improve their lives and well-being.
It is in this spirit that the Foundation recently partnered with Kaiser Family Foundation to measure the adverse effects of stress and fear on the health of immigrant families with children. The results of that research show us that how we treat one another, especially during times of duress, has profound and far-reaching consequences.
Reflecting back on that day in church, and those two sweet young lives, makes me smile and also elicits worry, simply because I know that there are more threats for them in this world than there are opportunities right now.
I take heart in knowing that together, we can still change that.
Every step forward is a step worth taking.
Peter Long, PhD
President & CEO, Blue Shield of California Foundation