It’s the season for celebrities, politicians, and other high profile individuals to share their wisdom on how to maneuver through life to the new wave of graduates. Ironically First Lady Michelle Obama and Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice invitation to speak has caused protest. The opposition believes the invite for First Lady Obama was politically motivated. As for Rice, the students did not approve of her decisions during the Bush administration.
I think the sad part of this story shows as a society we have decided not to accept one another. We as a country cannot reach its potential without human discourse. As humans we make mistakes, say things that hurt others, and do things that are unthinkable. We are flawed. We are messy. However we have to accept each other. We not only have to communicate with others who have a different perspective and background, but listen to them. Each of us brings our own set of traits to the table.
I might not agree with every action/speech from First Lady Obama or Rice but both individuals have a wealth of experiences that should be shared particularly to recent graduates. Both women have worked in fields dominated by men. Rice grew up in the segregated South to become a one of the most powerful leaders in the world. We cannot only associate with individuals who agree with everything we believe. There’s no fun in that. Engaging in a civil argument once in a while will not ruin our relationships.
Relationships are built on accepting one other. Many of us today lack human connection due to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. These social media outlets do not or will never replace how face to face interaction makes someone feel. Connecting with others makes one feel needed that brings along a sense of belonging. I believe the lack of relationships is one reason many turn to gangs and terrorists groups.
We have to make deliberate decision to go outside our comfort zone to see how others live. Stephen Black, the grandson of the late Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black recently stated in a NPR interview:
To me, the single biggest challenge to the future of an ethical country, of a moral country is not terrorism; it’s not another banking crisis. It’s a continuing civic disconnect. In other words, more and more Americans spending less and less personal time with people unlike themselves, aimed at goals and initiatives beyond their own self-interest. That’s poisonous to a democracy.
So this summer go to an event that promotes a different culture, go hear an individual who has a different political view, or better have a dinner at your house for those you have not seen in a while.
Linda Diakite Karressy currently works as a Financial Analyst. She is pursuing her MPA at IUPUI’s School for Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) in Indianapolis. The above was inspired by a sermon by Dr. Marion Miller at St. Luke Methodist Church. Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.