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Perfect place to grow

| Monday, November 16, 2015

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1.

Wednesday at 5 p.m., the Veteran’s Day Ceremony filled North Quad as Notre Dame ROTC servicemen stood to show respect for all the living and deceased men and women who served before them. At the same time, just steps away from the ceremony, students gathered to demonstrate their support for students of color at the University of Missouri.

Students across the country have written countless articles and social media posts about the issues taking place at Mizzou and other college campuses. The events that occurred and continue to occur at Mizzou have illustrated the unacceptable results of racism, institutionalism and bigotry that unfortunately are more widespread than anyone can fully comprehend. This letter is not meant to belittle the severity of the incidences at Mizzou. Rather, it is to communicate three things:

First, that the actions of the student demonstrators at Notre Dame were inconsistent with their proclaimed values.

Second, that the timing of the “ND for Mizzou” event lacked discernment.

Third, that it is possible to respect others and disagree with them simultaneously.

In theory, the “ND for Mizzou” event on Wednesday was dedicated to the support and respect of our fellow humans and their dignity. However, the video from this gathering shows a greater tendency towards appeals to emotion, anger and passion than to morality and solidarity.

“To the students of color at Mizzou, we, the students of color at Notre Dame, stand with you in solidarity. To those who would threaten their sense of safety, we are watching.”

Posted on Facebook timelines again and again, this statement employs a similar exclusive and threatening disposition that the students communicating it so actively combat. Why do the statuses not read, “We, all the students of Notre Dame, support all the students at Mizzou who need our support.” The issue is not simply wording, but rather a deeper-rooted issue of exclusivity in a movement that calls for widespread unity.

As adults, we need to have the maturity to control our emotions and not act in a reactionary manner. As Notre Dame students, we are especially called to approach every decision with thoughtful principle, conviction and faith. If Wednesday’s “ND for Mizzou” event was focused on the respect for human life and dignity, it lost credibility when its organizers scheduled it at the same time as the Veteran’s Day ceremony. There is no excuse for this conflict.

It is our moral responsibility to respect one another, but it is not anyone’s responsibility to be politically correct. Political correctness is defined as, “agreement with the idea that people should be careful to not use language or behave in a way that could offend a particular group of people.” People across the country can always grow in their understanding and treatment of others, especially towards those who are different from them, but it is ultimately up to each individual to choose how to react towards political incorrectness. Whether they choose to be offended by or empathetic towards the offender, individuals can still ultimately respect that people have different cultural, religious and political opinions, without having to agree with the opinion itself. Until we can coexist with that understanding, conversations will divide, movements will exclude and progress cannot be made. Thankfully, our University is the perfect place to grow together.

Lauren Hill
Breen-Phillips Hall

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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Letters to the Editor can be submitted by all members of the Notre Dame community. To submit a letter to the Viewpoint Editor, email viewpoint@ndsmcobserver.com

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  • Bri O’Brien

    This isn’t an issue of political correctness, and the individuals who continue to disregard the lived-experiences of the oppressed are also the individuals who think it acceptable to expect marginalized populations to respect bigotry like this viewpoint. Veterans day occurs every year and it’s no matter of urgency. It’s a day meant to honor and celebrate our military. It’s a privilege to be able to spend your time honoring the military, rather than spending your time dealing with the consequences of oppression. Seriously, the fact that you not only had the idea to write a viewpoint on this but then also had the time to write it says a lot – if this is what you spend your time worrying about, be thankful. Because the students who your misguided criticisms are directed at have to deal with institutionalized oppression every day of their lives, and they don’t have the luxury of observing veterans day. Their solidarity with students across the nation is frankly, much more urgent and important than a ROTC demonstration that ultimately means nothing – just like changing profile pictures to somehow support Paris is ultimately meaningless. Students coming together as a community and in solidarity of such an important, devastating cause actually accomplishes something – it’s a movement and students are demanding change.

    • Bri O’Brien
    • MC

      I understand where you’re coming from but you need to learn to express your views in a way that people who are not already engaged in your movement can understand. Right now, you are not achieving that.

      • Bri O’Brien

        I partially agree with you, but i Also stand by what i wrote as being an adequate response. There is only so much that can be expressed in online forums.

        • MC

          Not using “lived-experiences” would be a huge step up

          • Bri O’Brien

            And, why is that?

          • MC

            Because, when you think about it, “disregard the lived-experiences of the oppressed” doesn’t mean very much, it just sounds good. Say what you mean.

    • Johnny Whichard

      Somebody caught a nasty case of white-guilt. O_O Nothing reading a real news source like Drudge Report can’t fix….or a couple years out of academia lol