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How have we come to this?

Thursday, November 10, 2016

I teach. I have wonderful students. No, they're not all brilliant, they don't always try as hard as they could, and sometimes they even fall asleep in lecture (how could they?!) but they all are lovely, caring, people. At least that's how they have struck me. They come from all backgrounds, races, religions, sexual orientations, and political points of view. They are all my students.

In the past two days, we've experienced incidents on our campus involving some students being harassed and insulted based on what some others apparently view as their "differences." It has gotten to the point where faculty have had to band together to offer their support to students and our president has had to send out an email notice informing our campus that we are a family and intolerance is not acceptable. He has had to remind some members of our community that we have an anti-discrimination policy, and that we all owe each other mutual understanding and respect.

When did it become acceptable in our society to label people as "-" (fill in whatever horrible epitaph you wish)? When did we lose our sense of respect for our fellow humans, and begin to insist that they fit a particular mold in order to be considered "one of us"? When did we forget that "We the people..." means ALL of the people? My father fought and earned a Purple Heart for this country. He instilled in his children a great love of our nation and the belief that we are ALL equal. And yet we seem to have lost our way recently. When people in the limelight use their notoriety to insult others, to suggest that some be treated differently based on national origin or religion, that women are somehow not worthy of being treated as equals but rather as objects, and when we don't respond strongly enough, with a unified voice that this is unacceptable, then I guess this is what we've wrought.

We should never forget that our children are watching and listening. That when we put the word B*TCH on a t-shirt and wear proudly it to a rally, we are sending a message about all women and their place in our society. That when we talk about "those people" in a way that is derogatory, we are sending the message that it's okay to lump people into categories based on where they were born, or the color of their skin, or the religion that they practice.

My students deserve support and respect. All of them. It breaks my heart to think that some of them are facing bigotry and harassment because some people now think that kind of behavior is okay. I don't know how we turn this around and reclaim the moral high ground, but I know that if we wish to retain our national identity as the government for the people and by the people, this is what we have to do. Let's start by vowing to treat each other with more kindness. By making deliberate attempts to reach out to someone who may be faced with this kind of discrimination and let them know that they are valued members of our community. By sending messages to any of our leaders or celebrities who engage in this kind of behavior that we will not tolerate it. Let's start today - tomorrow may be too late.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • no profile photo CD16644385
    I wonder how travel by Americans will soon be for us in other countries since he is making so many enemies.
    1541 days ago
    crazy world right now :(
    1612 days ago
    Dark days. This is when its more important than ever to show compassion and kindness to the people around you x
    1612 days ago
  • no profile photo CD2704340
    I meditate daily with the themes of "Love Your Neighbor" and "Peace and Loving Kindness For All". Let's get a Peace Train going in America. We are better than all this negativity.
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1617 days ago
  • KAYDE53
    I totally agree!! It should be taught at home, but when we have people in positions of influence who do the same thing, it snowballs. emoticon emoticon
    1618 days ago
  • no profile photo CD6687446
    Very well said. What happened to us? When did it start? I've seen the "I am a B*tch" t-shirt on a teenage girl at the library. What??? Where are her parents? And the media does not help things. Most of what's on t.v. is trash - cheating, stealing, fighting, killing, sex, sex, sex. Same with a lot of the music. Garbage in, garbage out.

    And the bullying and intolerance is everywhere. Some man was dragged from his car and beaten because he voted for the "wrong" candidate. Who decides which candidates are wrong? Why are mobs trashing and burning and destroying the property of innocent people to show their distaste for the president elect? I don't remember this happening at the last election. Between that election and this one, things have definitely changed. You don't like something that happened? Take a bunch of your buddies downtown and bash someone's car to pieces. Kill a police officer. Break into a business and ransack it. Why do these people feel entitled to do this kind of stuff? Who do they think they are? Protest, yes. Have discourse, yes. STOP WHINING AND GROW UP. BIG YES. Sorry. Guess I had some strong feelings about this. emoticon
    1618 days ago
    I totally agree with you. Unfortunately, LINDAK25 is right about being taught this biased behavior at home. But there does come a time in adulthood where we have to form our own opinions. Hopefully there are more good people out there than bad!
    1618 days ago
    I'm hoping this is just a post-election phenomena and will die down pretty soon. But the fact that he's considering Steve Bannon of Breitbart for chief of staff is a very, very bad sign.
    1618 days ago
    emoticon emoticon
    1618 days ago
    I agree. Very well written reflection. Success will happen if each of us takes responsibility and start acting positively in our circles.
    1618 days ago
  • JANET552
    emoticon I agree that we must treat everyone with kindness and I will continue to speak out when I see someone mistreated (it's the teacher in me). But, I will also start to speak out when I hear those with power and influence. It's time to start a kindness revolution!!
    1618 days ago
    emoticon I totally agree! Regardless of the side of politics you stand with...these are always rights to be expected for everyone.
    1618 days ago
    We are visiting family in DC this weekend and our 14 yr old granddaughter tells us that students are not standing for the Flag now. She salutes along with the faculty. It's quite astounding. And somewhat terrifying.
    1618 days ago
    Very well said and I agree totally !

    1619 days ago
  • CMAC12345
    Kindness please!! 😀
    1619 days ago
  • LINDAK25
    I think that teaching appropriate behavior starts at home.This bullying and inappropriate behavior is learned over a child's lifetime. By the time a person gets to college they should be able to know how to behave. It would be wonderful if everyone was nice, but that's not the way the world always works. We should teach our children to be kind and compassionate and that our differences are what make us stronger.

    We have forgotten how much power we have. Don't like a celebrity's behavior? Don't buy whatever they're selling or learn how to use the remote control and turn them off. True, just because you vote for someone doesn't always mean they'll win, nothing lasts forever. For those who want to make a difference, tell them they have a voice--get involved, stay involved, and make the system better.
    1619 days ago
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