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Monique Ruffin Headshot

Our Days of Oz

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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a timeless story. I don't know anyone who doesn't relate
to at least one of the characters. We each, in our own way, know what it's like to feel
as though we can't touch a fundamental element of our being. If we feel lost, unable to
clearly think, unable to love, or paralyzed by fear, we find ourselves presented in Frank
Baum's great American tale.

Since the financial tornado of 2008, it seems that our entire nation woke up in Oz,
wondering, "Where are we?" How did we get here?" "Who are all these strange people?"
I find it interesting and symbolic that so many Americans are facing foreclosure and that
the real estate market has been devastated by greed -- as in the Wizard of Oz, we as a
nation have lost the way home. To me, this loss goes to the core of who we are: we are
out of touch with our deepest selves.

In the tale of Oz, Dorothy wasn't able to return home until she found within herself the
power to do so. Could the answer to our downtrodden citizenry be both so close and so
far? Is it possible that we as citizens can heal our country by realizing the spark of the
divine within? Like Dorothy, we have been looking for salvation outside of ourselves --
we want our leaders to save us, our pastimes to comfort us, and our material possessions
to give our lives meaning. As a nation we have bought into the idea that our problems
exist because someone has done something to us, landing us in this far-off land with no
way home.

But getting back to a place that feels like home does not mean looking for someone to
call our oppressor, it means we rediscover who we are at our center. I believe this to
be the responsibility of every individual citizen in this nation. Like Dorothy and her
companions, we are being called to recognize our unique and distinct gifts. Finding home
means realizing what lives within us. Home is the place where all that we are resides. The
challenge is that we have forgotten we possess a spark of the divine within us. Hence,
we are without a home, without intellectual strength, without heart, and without courage.
Wow!

How do we find home and ourselves in the process? It starts by believing that we've
always possessed the power, just as the good witch Glenda told Dorothy. There is no
wizard who can give us what we already possess. We must believe that we have the
power, ideas, inspiration, and fearlessness to heal the great challenges of our nation.
Belief in our ability is everything. In the absence of our self-belief we will continue to
blame and look outside of ourselves for solutions. Lasting and transformative solutions
can only come from within.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has touched all of our lives in one way or another.

Beginning today we can apply the lessons of Oz to ourselves and our country. Today
I'm beginning to ask myself "How can I use the divine spark within me to become more
intelligent, compassionate, and courageous?" Realizing our divine spark within is the
fastest way to bring our nation and its citizens back home.