Posts Tagged ‘Diversity’

Liberal Tears

Posted: November 10, 2016 in Uncategorized
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By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty

November 10, 2016

Dear sister,

Yesterday morning, you sent a text asking how I was feeling. This graciousness in you compels me to explain my sorrow.

Because I love you, I want to more fully describe why fifty percent of the voting population was and is disheartened by the 2016 election results.

Yes, I cried many tears.

These were derisively described as “liberal tears” by a colleague (one I respect and like) whose support for Trump shocked me.

Yesterday was filled with many such unpleasant surprises.

Knowing the power of re-appropriating language, I welcome the label “liberal tears” for the ones I have shed over the past two days. I have always been proudly liberal.

I cried at 3:00am when I discovered the outcome and was unable to sleep, fearing the uncertain future for so many Americans: POC, LGBTQ, immigrants, Muslims, and countless others who feel at risk.

I cried walking in the door of my college, where I teach a wonderfully diverse population of students, many who now feel undervalued and unwelcome.

I cried when I left work at 8:00pm, tired from a disappointing and demanding day, proud to pass protesters on the streets of Chicago.

I cry as I write this now.

Like yours, my vote was cast not only for a candidate, but for a value system. What I value above all is equality and social justice. I fear that these values will be undermined by the impending administration.

My fears have already been sadly justified as Vice President-elect Pence has stated his intention to work to eradicate hard-won rights for the LGBTQ community.

I fear for our environment, too, as cuts in funding and worse, for the EPA are planned.

“And, so it goes,” as Vonnegut said.

I tell my students who are looking for a second chance that I do not have a time machine.

We cannot go back. We must move forward.

In order to do that with integrity, I must reaffirm that when a person expresses racist, sexist, homophobic, and xenophobic sentiments, and others listen, but do not reject these words, or pretend not to hear, they are in complicit agreement. This type of silence erodes humanity.

If you do not voice your opposition to the evils of racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia, you are tacitly supporting these ideologies.

The words of Martin Luther King ‘s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” are sadly still apt, “Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.” The frustrations and sadness being expressed stem from a place of true concern for the safety of others.

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Thus, I must be more forceful in my rejection of prejudices, whenever and wherever they occur. I will continue to support and educate. I will speak out against hatred in every possible venue. I will donate more money to organizations that protect rights, especially the ACLU, Teach Tolerance, and Planned Parenthood. I will listen to those who need to speak.

Two weeks ago, our brother asked what I wanted for our country; this was my reply, “logical and reasonable leadership, inclusion of people from all cultures, religions, and sexual orientations. I care about social issues, always have, that is my voice and my vote.”

That will always be my reply.

I am glad I saved those words to share with you (I am rather sentimental, as you know).

I hope that clarifies why I could never vote for Trump. How any woman could bring herself to vote to Trump, I cannot possibly fathom. The reasons for my choices are something I wanted to convey.

Whatever changes republicans attempt to make to this country—which is already great, thanks to incredible work of a host of immigrants from all over the globe—I will work to ensure that none come at the cost of undermining basic human rights for all.

I simply cannot and will not sit by and let a person, group, or party espouse and insight hatred. I love and respect all people, even those with whom I bitterly disagree.

This country is divided, of that there is no doubt. This country is changing, which is in large part responsible for the divide.

It is also true that we are all in this together; I cannot hope for four years of colossal failures because that wouldn’t serve the common good. What I do hope is that messages of love, tolerance, and acceptance will break through the walls erected against acceptance.

I continue to hope for a better future (and leave the praying to you).

More importantly, I will work for a better future by raising my voice in protest and in support for those whose rights or basic humanity would be denied.

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With love, always,

Tricia

Embrace Empathy

Posted: March 22, 2016 in Uncategorized
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By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

New and emerging education research examines and supports the critical importance of empathy, both as theory and practice.

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Last week, the theme in my ENG 325 class was ‘Diversity, Inclusion, and Cultural Pluralism.’ I intentionally frame the conversations by addressing aspects of constructive choice (it is not ‘racism, sexism, and xenophobia’ week). Learning how to nurture positive responses to difference is much more empowering. Moreover, research shows that diversity feeds creativity, productivity, and stability.

We live in a diverse world, one in which our experiences are both strikingly similar and decidedly different than other members of our human family; a glimpse at what it means to be alive right now on this planet is offered in this fascinating video.

Another text that informs our dialogue is the (rather hippy-trippy, even for me) documentary called I Am, which delves deeper into the interconnection of all living things. Ultimately, concerning ourselves with the well-being of all life is an act that benefits everyone.

Connecting with each and every other person we encounter is an enormous challenge, but one that must be met. According to Jeremy Rifkin whose work The Empathic Civilization was presented as a lecture at the RSA, and beautifully animated here, suggests that if we don’t prioritize and promote empathy, “We’re simply not going to make it.”

Daily incidents of violence and destruction declare the importance of empathy. If we respect and value difference, if we feel connected to all of humanity, if we see in them a mirror of ourselves rather than a frightening, menacing other, it is much more difficult to label, harass, blame, or inflict pain.

Many years ago, a storyteller visited my school in Brecksville, Ohio. I recall sitting in a circle with my classmates in the little library inside Chippewa Elementary school. This event was greeted with the standard amount of elementary-school excitement—a real, live storyteller! We were going to experience something new and exciting, the way learning felt to all of us then (naturally I still love learning and libraries).

At the end of his performance, the storyteller shared a brief and ultimately prescient parable (the message came to resonate later in my life). The story offered a lesson in the destructive power of hatred. The exact words I have forgotten, yet the meaning remains incredibly vivid.

Here is what I remember:

Once upon a time, there was a powerful ruler. He craved complete power. As such, he was terribly jealous of his closest rival. The ruler wanted nothing more than to exceed his rival in every possible way.

Eager to realize his goal, the envious, suspicious leader asked for the assistance of a magical creature.

The wise creature told the ruler he would be granted one wish, with one stipulation. When the ruler’s wish came true, the benefit requested would be doubled and bestowed on the despised rival. If the ruler asked for a million pieces of gold, he would receive it, but his rival would receive twice that amount.

The ruler thought for a long time, confused and conflicted. Surely, what he wanted most was to surpass his rival. What gift that would be doubled could possibly achieve that end?

The ruler came to a decision and announced his desire.

“I have chosen my wish. I wish for you to strike me blind in one eye.”

The other children and I were stunned.

“How could anyone ever wish for something so terrible?” we naively asked.

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