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viewpoint

Do walls make you safer?

| Thursday, October 25, 2018

The last few years have culminated in a combative atmosphere that has been all but unifying, open and understanding in regards to salient issues of identity. In fact, it’s caused most of us to retreat, to sink back and to put up our walls and remain defensive. Sometimes, defending ourselves is the safest option. Sometimes, however, we are left to wonder: Are these walls really protecting us?

I cannot help but suggest that, while in the moment it may be safer to protect these salient issues of identity, it does everyone more harm than good in the long run.

Putting up walls does not just hurt ourselves, but can deafen an entire campus as we respond to others’ defenses by fortifying our own. When it comes to issues of race, gender, socioeconomic status, religion, sexual misconduct, mental health, disability, political alignments, sexual orientation and more, a lack of understanding comes from trying to keep others out. What if, instead, we attempted to let people in? Our goal should be to promote space for conversation and understanding by not only letting others in, but also respecting that invitation and entering with compassion.

This year’s production of Show Some Skin: Drop the Wall encourages just that. We want our community to tear down their walls, brick by brick, and engage in the vulnerability that we are all so quick to shy away from.

Everyone has a story. Too often, these stories are not given a platform. This year’s Call for Stories addresses some possible explanations: We construct walls because we fear that we won’t compare or measure up to others, that we might lose friends or that others may pass judgment. We construct walls because we are afraid that others might not understand us, but we also construct them because we refuse to understand others. We do it because we fear people won’t understand, that our stories don’t mean anything, that they’re nothing compared to somebody else’s … the list goes on.

Seven years since its inception, Show Some Skin still strives to give voice to these narratives because we think that walls hurt more than they help. By engaging in these conversations with one another about the very components of our identity that make us human, our minds and hearts are changed as they are ushered toward compassion, understanding and appreciation for these wrongfully stigmatized issues.

We ask you to be a part of the conversation. To start tearing down your walls and sharing yourself with others. This movement would not be possible without you. Submit a monologue today on Show Some Skin’s website. Submissions are due by Nov. 1.

Trever Carter is a senior. He can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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