This week, we come together to “Celebrate the Spirit,” which to me, is all about honoring the community that we have built together as members of John Carroll University.
In my small stint on earth so far, I’ve been lucky to witness communities that exemplify what it means to love.
I’ve seen the fierce interdependence of migrant workers in Immokalee, Florida, the deep cultural enthusiasm of the members of the Bronx and Harlem, NYC and of course, the community that makes up our beloved Carroll.
Despite all the love that is presented in many communities, it would be naïve to say that each community I listed, including our own, is free from conflict.
The same passion that fuels love also fuels hate. The migrant workers in Florida not only loved, but also battled with, opposing immigrant populations for job opportunities. In the Bronx, widespread poverty led community members to do arguably malevolent things to one another. Spanish Harlem was in the process of reconciling with a history of turmoil between cultural groups.
And although it may not be what you want to hear, our own campus has quite a bit of work to do.
I often witness small, everyday occurrences that add up to an accepted perpetuation of disrespect. For instance, the soft but intentional snicker when a woman dares to defend her gender in class. The unrealistic ridicule of a foreign-born professor. The dehumanizing lack of eye contact given to a cafeteria worker. Usage of derogatory comments about minorities being treated as playful commentary.
We pride ourselves on being “men and women for and with others,” but at times, we forget what it means to live up that title.
I know what you’re thinking. Many of the claims and examples that I just provided do not pertain to everyone, and you’re right, they don’t. Overall, I believe that we belong to a loving and supportive community. Yet, failing to talk about our shortcomings is a form of backhanded acceptance of our faults.
Maybe in this week of community building, we could think about just how unnecessary it is to fuel hate, not just on our campus, but in a broader sense.
One would think that in 2014, the barriers that tear us apart would be irrelevant. We’ve sent men (and women) to space, we’ve cloned animals, developed seemingly boundless technologies and despite that, we haven’t figured out how to love one another.
Pardon my ignorance, but I really don’t understand why that is. Why is it that the color of our skin, no matter how much we try to deny it, divides us literally and figuratively in neighborhoods and opportunities? Why do we try to claim God as our particular creed, gender and nation’s, sending those people that don’t fit in our mold to the depths of hell? Why do we still question the reliability of a woman’s power? Why do we deem what is love and what is not?
You and I, we’re all just fallible humans. We don’t have that kind of power. The power that we do have, however, is the power to love. No one said that that was out of our reach.
If loving should be so organic, why have we opposed it for so long? Why did we enslave our brothers and sisters because of differences in pigment? Why do we speak poorly of brothers who love brothers and sisters who love sisters?
Kids, we all start in the same place. Whoever or whatever made us, made all of us. I know that I’m certainly not the first person to ask for a more loving world, but I’m asking now because I know that I won’t be the last. If we’re all stuck together on this big ol’ planet, we might as well help each other out.
We’re all we’ve got.
Picture a time when we look back at this conversation with a trivial scoff. A time when whether you’re black, white, purple, blue, gay, straight, unsure, male, female, transgender or whatever doesn’t even begin to matter. I really believe that we, as John Carroll students, can fight against small acts of unkindness by remembering the commitment each of us has to one another as members of the same community.
The time when we finally realize that we’ve wasted so much precious energy trying to change things about each other that can’t be changed.
If we turn that energy into love, who knows what we could do? Think about it, friends.