By: Leo Grantham
On March 29, a video was posted to the Griffon News’ social media accounts of a young woman, without her consent and without context, which went viral. I will not be recounting the details of this. Please read the St. Joseph News Press article on this, which is online. This video, its content, the context and the way people are reacting to it are a symptom of a much larger issues in the community on campus and in the country at large.
People aren’t listening to each other. We’ve built walls and refuse to see one another. I am not saying that those who are facing violence from the systems that form our society are required to meet injustice with love. That is not my position. I cannot understand what it’s like to be black or Muslim in America. I am writing to those on the outside of this interaction, such as myself, and making the case that listening is the next step.
Those who believe they are right need to listen to those who have concerns. This needs to be done with an open heart. Don’t enter these conversations believing that you know. If you do know, then afterwards, your understanding of truth will stand. If you weren’t right, let go of what you believed and move forward with a new understanding, appreciating it. André Gide, a French author wrote the following, “…believe those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who find it….” When working as a genuine, truth seeker, do not find a truth and remain uncritical. A commonly misunderstood part of this is that if you don’t believe in absolutes—usually featuring a clearly outlined enemy like the State or immigrants—then you stand for nothing. Of course, that’s not fair. It’s another example of an absolute parading around as your only two options.
Truth and justice aren’t coordinates on a map. We create the future that holds them and what that looks like. Allow justice, compassion and love to be the focus point of your interactions (in and out of political spaces), and creating the future you want to see will follow. Criticism about the MAGA hat’s historical link to anti-black and Islamophobic violence are legitimate. When someone voices this, do you allow your anger to control your reaction, shutting out another person and their humanity to safeguard your rightness? These conversations are a tool in building the future, but they can only be used as such if they are not being co-opted as another form of screaming into the void of political destitution.
Do your own research, examine the legitimacy of claims and do not take up time and speak for or over others. It is okay not to know, but it can be very damaging to cover your ears for the sake of preserving your sense of security. A sense of security which is maintained by blinding yourself to injustice and violence is not legitimate. It’s by nature built on a faulty foundation.