The Agitation for Intentionality

By Rich Harwood

As I travel across the country on my new speaking tour, I am hearing a growing readiness and restlessness for a new, hopeful path forward where we can bring out the best in us, the best of us. This is good news—and I find myself reflecting deeply on it as Easter and Passover are upon us.

Regardless of any religious affiliation and beliefs you may or may not hold, this season is about reflection and action. For me, it is about agitation—I am challenged to think about what it means to step forward and engage in co-creating a world that speaks to our common aspirations, honors human dignity, where each person counts, including, especially, the stranger.

This agitation is about renewal: who we seek to become—and who will we be.

To answer this call, this time asks us to be more intentional—to put a stake in the ground about the kind of nation and communities we want. To examine our own personal purpose, and how we gain meaning in a world filled with noise and confusion. Not to see ourselves as mere bystanders and consumers, but as co-creators of our communities and lives.

This intentionality is about being wakeful. We move into the world awake—present, attuned to those around us, attentive. Our eyes are wide open and our hearts are enlarged. We are here.

Such a posture is in direct opposition to the current negative conditions in society—the polarization, demonization of others, shunting of the stranger—that all-too-often cause us to hunker down, close up and fear the other. Intentionality calls us to step forward, not back.

Intentionality also is about moral accountability. Not one of us can control everything in our lives, but each of us does exercise power over much of what we do. Moral accountability suggests that your actions do not come free of strings attached. There are consequences and ramifications to what you and I and others do. We must account for these as best we can.

What I love about these two holidays (among other holidays) is that they are a direct call to us—an agitation: Wake up! See what is happening around you! Engage! They say to us that renewal is possible if we make ourselves present and apply ourselves—if we dare to hope.

None of us can change the world on our own, but we each can make our own contribution. The process of deepening your intentionality is about embracing the choices that stand before you.

To make any good choice—whether it deals with community or public life or our own personal lives—requires you to be intentional. When you become more intentional you engage in acts of discernment, sorting through what we confront, its different meanings and possibilities. You set out a course of action.

What I am asking you to do is to seize your intrinsic power and step forward, be more intentional, co-create the world around you—and dare to hope.