Ashley Judd’s book, ‘All That is Bitter and Sweet’, begins with a quote that, to me, captures the essence of who she is.
“If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am only for myself, what am I?
If not now, when?”
Reading this quote, it’s undeniable that Ashley Judd is a monumental change agent. In her book, and in her life, Ashley is grounded. She knows who she is and works to help others find themselves, constantly reaching out to those who need support or guidance. Her voice is firm and assertive. Ashley knows her purpose and her book demonstrates who that person is. She reminds us of the importance of being present and finding importance and meaning in all that we do.
“Everything I’ve done has been personally fun, important, and meaningful to me.” -Ashley Judd
We all know Ashley Judd from the big screen, but she is more than that. She is a woman we can relate to and someone we all strive to be more like. She is a true change agent, as she is a constant catalyst of change, seeing the need for it, and making it happen. Part of being a change agent is recognizing this need, and feeling a connection that makes it impossible to ignore
“I am often asked why I regularly leave behind my comfortable life, my beautiful farm, my incredible husband, to visit the squalid and often dangerous places, advocating sustainable grassroots programs that improve the lives of the world’s most vulnerable people, bringing attention to the core causes and conditions of their suffering. I go because I must.” -Ashley Judd
Ashley self admittedly came from a rocky past. Abuse, neglect, and family problems riddled her childhood and even her adulthood. She does not deny the troubles she has overcome, and is willing to reference her past in her writing. Yet, rather than dwelling, she always uses her past as a reason to move forward and as a key to relating to people in situations that may at first have seemed so unable to relate to. In this way, she is for herself. She is for herself, but in a way that makes her more available to others, and more able to help those that need her. She uses her past to propel herself. By doing this, she shows us the importance of self-love, which is a necessary, but often overlooked trait of successful and inspirational women.
Though many may first recognize Ashley Judd as a successful actor or child of a famous musical family, her true calling and passion are humanitarianism. After years of traveling and acting, she knew she was ready to give more, so she did. She started traveling the world, representing women, children, and the impoverished, and fighting against the global epidemic of AIDS. Ashley has traveled to several countries not only promoting healthy relationships and preventative programs, but also sharing her life with those who have had little contact with a concerned world. Ashley is for others not because of what she does, but because of who she is when she is doing it.
“When we take the risk of really witnessing another human being, when we validate their human experience, we risk becoming recruited to their welfare. I allow my empathy to be engaged, and once it is – because my feelings help teach me what my values are – I’m on the path for which there is no return. I am inexorably an advocate when I allow my empathy to be engaged.” –Ashley Judd
The last part of the quote from the prologue asks a question we have all probably asked ourselves at some point–if not now, when? Knowing what you can do for change and actually doing it are two very different things. We all see the need for change in our world and also in our own community. Daily we are faced with the realities of unequal rights, impoverished communities, and spreading health epidemics—just to name a few. So, I ask, what are we waiting for?
If not now, when?
Join us Thursday, May 1st, as we all, change agents, come together to be inspired and to learn from a fellow change agent who dared to ask herself just that—if not now, when?
Find out what it takes to propel yourself into all that you were meant, and find out just how alike we all are, coming from different backgrounds and different presents to create a future that we can all be proud of. Keyholder this year is about change agents—being one, and recognizing all of those around us who have already taken the steps towards change. We will celebrate Ashley and also ourselves.
“You have so much power to bring awareness, prevention, and change.” -Ashley Judd
Join us in our celebration of the power of change.
Written by Brittany Teal, Women’s Fund Intern