My mother Julia Liu was not a religious person. But in the early 1990s, after my father died suddenly, she encountered a book by Pope John Paul II called Be Not Afraid. She took it to heart. In that time of desolation, she resolved to be not afraid. Over the ensuing thirty years she faced reality, rooted herself in community, and began a new life. This new life had its trials. But it was filled with friendship and joy and curiosity and contribution. Not fear.

My mother died this past spring. And at the end of this trying year, as I reflect upon all the reasons for us all to be afraid right now, I recall her spirit.

To be not afraid does not mean being in denial, or numb or nihilistic. It means being willing to recommit — to each other, to the possibility that we, together, can make something better than this.

At Citizen University we believe deeply in recommitment. Our civic faith is fed by the people we teach and learn from all across the United States — everyday catalysts who read the same headlines you do, who know the same Omicron statistics, who sense the same air of rising menace and disunion, who see the same threats to our national political institutions, and who decide, in Kingston, New York and Brownsville, Minnesota and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Greenville, South Carolina and Dallas, Texas and Gulfport, Mississippi and San Francisco, California, to be not afraid.

These remarkable civic catalysts are bringing CU programs to their hometowns, like Civic Saturday and Citizen Redefined and our Youth Collaboratory.

They have chosen to be the hope they seek in the world. To practice power, cultivate character, repair trust, and reawaken a sense of responsibility to and for one another.

Together, they and we are creating an alternative to the cynicism, helplessness, and despair that feed conspiracy thinking, authoritarianism, and scapegoating.

I invite you today to support our work and make a contribution to Citizen University that matches this moment. My teammates and I take heart because we know we are not alone — we are part of a great web of people like you who are racing to repair American civic life from the bottom up. Show us today that you, too, are not afraid. Join us in recommitment.

~ Eric Liu
CEO & co-founder of Citizen University

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