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By: Michael Cullinane

The one thing that I recall most fondly from my time in the Navy is that we all worked together towards a common objective.  It was this sweating towards a common purpose that bonded us into a band of brothers (and sisters), it was this activity that brought together a unity out of a diversity.  When I think back to the events not only on campus in the last month, but also just the state of the nation lately, I believe that we need unity in purpose now more than ever.

Towards this end I propose that Missouri Western create a Peace Garden.  The purpose of the Peace Garden is to get the diversity of the student body and faculty together to work towards a concrete goal.  What is this diversity? Muslims and Christians, blacks and whites, Republicans and Democrats, science majors and humanities majors, males and females.  It’s hard to hate someone that you are working beside and getting to know. We can read books all night long about the benefits of sleep or we can just go sleep.  We can talk until we’re blue in the face about diversity or we can practice it in our actions.

My hope is that we can create an aesthetic symbol to show all future visitors that we are dedicated towards living out our core values.  The first value is service. What better way to live that out than by putting in the work that this garden requires? The garden would be born out of a commitment towards all of our values, and it would be an excellent opportunity to demonstrate our commitment towards freedom and respect by encouraging all the members of the university to work together.  

Missouri Western is a human institution, and as such, it will never be perfect.  However, we can say that we are dedicated towards our ideals and that we want to live out those ideals and work towards building lifelong bonds here built out of respect and freedom for all despite any differences we may have.  A wise man falls seven times but rises eight. It’s not that we haven’t made mistakes, but that we strive forwards towards our ideals again. We learn from our mistakes, we have empathy for each other, and we learn how to get along better as time goes on.  I would rather make a garden to build peace than draw a line in the sand to create divisiveness.

I don’t see any reason why Missouri Western can’t achieve similar bonding like what I saw in the Navy, and that is the one thing I miss most about the military.  We had people joining from Ghana Africa, the Phillipines, Central America, Alabama, California, New York- but at the end of the day, we were all family. We might have had our disagreements, but we were committed to working together to make a better world in the way that we could.  

The idea of building a garden is that we might not be able to do much as individuals, but together we can accomplish a good work.  It’s a symbol of beauty with flowers that can be planted and fresh produce that could be donated to the Campus Cupboard. Finally, gardening is just a good and relaxing way to get to know each other.  It is my hope that President Vartabedian can make this happen in his remaining time here, and I want to help in any way that I can. I hope others join me in making this Peace Garden a reality.

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