A Message from My Heart
Dear Alexander Graham Bell Community,
In light of the tragedy in Orlando this past
weekend, I've been reflecting on the tremendous damage that hate and
intolerance bring to our lives. Whether it's based in our upbringing, our
culture or our spiritual understanding, a lack of respect for one another
destroys families, organizations and even civilizations. We have an obligation
not only to ourselves, but to the generations that follow, to reverse this
The devastating shooting in Orlando is only the most recent of events based in hatred. How sad that so many innocents have been killed in acts of intolerance.
Although this is a time in American life where we
see the generations blending across ethnic and racial backgrounds, where the
rule of law has broken down barriers of gender and orientation, still there are
outbursts of violence and hatred beyond those we have seen in the past. Worse
yet is the lack of tolerance for the choices others make in their own lives. I
really don't understand it. We know more now than we ever have about each other
- what trials and challenges various peoples have endured and often overcome
throughout history and into present times - yet the lack of acceptance of the
differences that make each of us who we are seems unprecedented.
There is a trend now, particularly in social media, for people to state the ugliest and most hateful things about those who have a different opinion from them. It's not just in political dialogue; it shows up in postings as simple as feedback about a product or an expression of thanks for a blessing or a statement about education. One person makes a comment, and detractors pile heaps of derision upon them. This is tantamount to verbal bullying. And because of the anonymity some forums afford us, there seems to be no limit to the detestable nature of their comments. A simple difference of opinion seems to give license to personal attacks, some of a highly graphic nature. Is this the open-minded, accepting, tolerant society we claim to have become?
What truly concerns me is how this limits our
progress. We've known for many years that while one person can get a movement
started, others must join in to bring it to a tipping point where it actually
makes a difference in people's lives. Think of the impact that schools like
KIPP have made in recent years or the effects of increasing diversity among
leaders of corporations and organizations. These were not overnight successes;
many took long years to change the prevailing opinion, but change they did, and
for the improvement of us all.
Let's change the way we listen and speak to each
other - after all, listening and speaking is what AG Bell is all about. Let's
hear what people are trying to express about their experiences without dashing
their hopes for the future. As we listen to others, we hope that we also will
be heard - without hate, without derision, without intolerance.
Let's speak with intelligence, with compassion,
and with an open mind. Each of us carries the hurts of the past with us; but by
sharing our knowledge and working together, we can achieve new advances that
ensure that each generation will face fewer hurts than the one before. We
cannot do that through hate, but only with the knowledge that our world is
constantly changing and so must we.
In the darkest of times, we must find hope for the future.
Ignorance and prejudice are the handmaidens of propaganda. Our mission, therefore, is to confront ignorance with knowledge, bigotry with tolerance, and isolation with the outstretched hand of generosity.