Differences should breed discussion, not hatred undefined

March 11, 2011 Commentary Print Print
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To The Editor:

On March 8, the college hosted a lecture on “Communicating with the Opposite Sex.”

The promotional posters depicted a heterosexual “couple” and addressed improving communications between the two individuals.

Someone apparently took exception to this depiction.

 

That opposition could have led to a healthy discussion about how we define relationships and why only heterosexual communications were being addressed.

Instead, someone chose to vandalize one of the posters in order to point out that there are many ways to define “a couple” and to suggest that he/she expected more from a college. Perhaps the perpetrator should also expect more from himself/herself.

People are complex, multi-dimensional beings. We are also somewhat egocentric in that we assume and expect everyone else is like us.

We often quickly slide down the ladder of reason and begin employing stereotypes in order to classify ourselves as a part of the correct in-group and others as a part of the flawed out-group.

We try to force people into neatly labeled boxes and put them on a shelf, but those labels typically say more about us than about the group whom we’ve labeled.

As I said, we’re much too complex to be shoved into a tiny box. However, relying on stereotypes is faster and easier than taking the time to learn about someone.

Taking the low road is certainly easier and safer than taking a more mature approach to issues of diversity and acceptance, but that road never leads us out of the abyss.

College is a place where we experience many cultural differences, sometimes for the first time in our lives.

It is here where we encounter ideas and behaviors that are not our own, and which may never become our own. Learning about others isn’t about abandoning one’s self in order to become the other person. It’s about learning about the other person.

That’s a process that requires time, a willingness to communicate, and a desire to share information.

The lecture on learning how to communicate with the opposite sex could have led to the question regarding why relationships were being addressed in this very historically narrow context.

Important dialogue could have taken place, not only about sexual orientation and why all types of couple relationships are not addressed, but also about the stereotypical assumption that men and women represent alien species capable of co-existing only with professional help.

Vandalism enlightens no one. It inhibits growth and change and understanding rather than advancing them. Have the courage to find your voice and question those things that seem unfair.

Be the change you want to see in others.

 

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