Skip to content

“The only lasting truth is Change.”


Associate Chair Elizabeth Archuleta shared the wisdom from Octavia Butler’s Earthseed series to guide us through uncertainty and collective survival.

Programs  

Transcript


SANILA MATH:

I’d like to introduce our faculty speaker, Dr. Elizabeth Archuleta.

ELIZABETH ARCHULETA:

Okay. That’s hard to follow up on. Okay. Let me get my readers on. I want to congratulate our Transform students and welcome everyone who’s here to celebrate their achievements. I also want to commend our graduates on getting through a rough two years. While the last two years have been difficult, we remain amidst great change, with loss and uncertainty seemingly on the horizon.

Anti-LGBTQ opponents have introduced and passed several measures such as banning transgender youth from participating in school sports or passing “Don’t Say Gay” bills; books about racism and gender identity are disappearing from school library shelves; hyper-partisan gridlock in Congress is preventing the passage of meaningful immigration legislation; anti-Asian hate crime is increasing; and several states are introducing abortion restrictions and enacting abortion bans.
There’s also the recent threat to Roe versus Wade in the Supreme Court. How do we go on amidst these uncertainties and indignities? How do we hold on to hope, joy, and humanity?

In the midst of uncertainty, I returned to African American, science fiction writer Octavia Butler and her Earthseed Series, which includes “Parable of the Sower” and “Parable of the Talents.” Butler has described these novels as cautionary tales, and in the last couple of years, they seem to be a parable for where we are today.

In the first novel, the United States has disintegrated from climate change, wealth inequality, and corporate greed. The novels center a young Black woman who navigates the politics of apocalypse and violence, and yet, the novels also offer hope. Although the 15-year-old protagonist, Lauren Olamina, witnesses the destruction of her childhood home, the death of her family, and the violence of humanity, she creates a vision of hope through Earthseed, which appears to be a new religion for a broken world.

As COVID extended into a second year, I turned to Earthseed’s verses because they mirror our goals in the school for Cultural and Social Transformation. And those goals are transformational change that move us toward social justice.

And you’ll find the verses that I’m going to read in the insert in your program if you want to follow along.

Verse 1 of Earthseed presents change as its central tenet, and it’s a principle that’s included in other verses. Verse one reads:

“All that you touch
You Change.
All that you Change
Changes you.
The only lasting truth is Change.
God IS Change.”

Transform students seek to change the world by thoughtfully engaging in differences that shape the landscapes in which we live. But Verse 1 also reminds us that what we seek to change also changes us. As future leaders and activists who create change, always take the time to consider how you have changed as you seek justice in the world.

Remember that life is a series of changes characterized by a coming together and a pulling apart of opposing forces that change each other, which we see in Verse 23 of Earthseed. It reads:

“In order to rise
From its own ashes
a Phoenix
First
Must
Burn.”

Fighting sexism, racism, or homophobia can lead to burnout. But like the phoenix, all of you have the courage to touch those fires, knowing you will rise to brightly shine once again.

Like Lauren Olamina, you also have the strength and the vision to imagine and create new homes that are just and fair for all. In Verse 49, Lauren seems to reflect on the losses that tore her and her world apart as she strives to create a new, diverse, and loving community. In Verse 49, she writes,

“The child in each of us
Knows paradise.
Paradise is home.
Home as it was
Or home as it should have been.
Paradise is one’s own place,
One’s own people,
One’s own world,
Knowing and known,
Perhaps even
Loving and loved.

Yet every child
Is cast from paradise-Into growth
and new community,
Into vast, ongoing
Change.”

While Butler’s novels are painful, they offer kernels of hope that can assist our collective survival if we are cast “from paradise into growth and new community.”

Since “the only lasting truth is Change,” we cannot go back to “the way things were.” In a world where there are too many Karens be a Lauren. Build new communities founded on love and the strength of diversity.

Create religions where god exists to be shaped by you, not by someone else. Find your paradise and create a home filled with people who are loving and loved. Or be an Octavia Butler. Be aware. Be present. Witness the world and create change so that good conquers evil and kindness conquers cruelty.

Thank you for listening and letting me share this time with you and congratulations to everyone. Now go and make some good change in the world.

Related Stories


Jun 8, 2022

Confidence, Curiosity, and Care

Student Convocation Speaker, Sanila Math, encouraged her fellow graduates to build confidence, curiosity, and care into their social advocacy and justice.

May 18, 2022

Intersectional generosity

Dean Stockton opened Convocation with brief remarks to remind us all that Critical Race Theory and Theories of Children’s Gender and Sexuality are forms of generosity to us all, whoever we may be.

May 13, 2022

2022 Convocation Recap

Congratulations to our newest Transform alumni! We couldn't be more proud of you and your accomplishments. We are here to celebrate your each and every move.

View all stories