As I write this letter, I am struck by the realization that 180 days have passed since the beginning of our new normal. This number—colloquially used to signify a complete change of direction—couldn’t be more symbolic as we consider the significant ways our lives have changed course since the start of the pandemic.
To date, COVID-19 has killed more than one million people worldwide. Schoolyards are no longer buzzing with curious minds and stimulating activities. Workplaces have gone dark, and workers are struggling to survive. Families have been isolated and kept apart for months. Houses of worship have gone silent. Travelers have been grounded. It almost feels as though time has stopped, and planning for anything beyond tomorrow seems futile. As our perspective narrows under the weight of despair, how do we find our gratitude in this season of thanks? How can we forge ahead when the light at the end of the tunnel loses its luster?
Gratitude is more than just a phrase written on a greeting card or a rustic wooden sign perched on your mantel. It is widely known to create connection and empathy, two valuable resources that can be lifelines during extraordinary times. In fact, research says exercising gratitude is one of the best ways to cope in times of crisis and can even increase a person’s resilience and boost their immune system.
At Pepperdine, we have so much to be grateful for, and we hope this issue of Pepperdine Magazine compels you to slow down and consider the gift of belonging to a dynamic group devoted to innovation and service. In the fall issue, we give thanks to the healthcare professionals who have suited up and sacrificed for the challenge of a lifetime. We salute the leaders who are demanding and implementing change in divided communities. We acknowledge the spiritual sages who are guiding us through our darkest days as they grapple with supporting their communities and themselves during difficult times. We recognize the students and administrators who are raising their voices to create inclusive spaces for the next generation of Waves.
I am personally grateful for the ways in which our diverse and dedicated collective has opened my eyes to the causes that people around me are fighting for every day. These stories are carefully curated to inspire readers to consider the viewpoints and values that are permeating our culture. I am grateful that you have accepted an invitation to inquiry that may challenge what you believe but will ultimately encourage you to think deeply about what matters to you and your extended community. Thank you for being a part of this learning journey.