What can we as individuals and as a community do to bridge the divide that the recent Presidential election has created in our country?
That was the question posed at the second Dragon Talks session, held in the theater on December 6.
A panel comprised of faculty members Jeff Beeby, Tony Green, Mark Lederer, Lou Richie, Tony Green and Director of Counseling Fran Warmerdam, as well as students Jason Brown ’18, Audrey Byrne ’17 and Sydney Lewis ’17, facilitated the discussion.
This session was a follow up to the inaugural Dragon Talks, held on October 6, which offered a forum to discuss the racial difficulties our country has recently experienced.
Those who attended this week’s session identified education, along with respectful and honest conversation, in which people truly listen to one another, as important first steps.
“A lot of the problems are born out of ignorance,” Lewis said, adding that education is key for greater understanding.
Green pointed out that all human beings belong to the same species and that “race” is not a biological reality but a myth. “We are all from a single clan from East Africa,” he said. “Everyone is directly related by blood.”
Standing against racism and misogyny are critical, Warmerdam said. ‘That means being really, really present to what’s going on,” she said.
Panelists said it was important to respect people with differing political viewpoints, even though that can be difficult at times.
There are a host of different reasons why people choose to vote for a particular candidate, Richie said, and you can’t say that everyone who voted for a particular candidate is a racist.
“I had a young lady in class who said that she thought Trump was a terrible human being, but because of her religious views she couldn’t vote for Clinton because Clinton is pro-choice,” he said.
The difficulty our society is having with civil conversation is troubling, Lederer said. “That concerns me as an educator, and as somebody who believes in the power of honest conversation,” he said. “So I’m trying to think about ways to be hopeful in the absence of conversations and trying to discern ways of being joyful.”
Throughout the session, students were encouraged to effect change by excelling in the classroom, relentlessly pushing for greater knowledge, and putting themselves in a better position to thrive in college and pursue a career in which they can be effective change makers in the community. “Dream as big as you possibly can,” Richie said.
Students were also charged with pushing for civil, meaningful conversations in the classroom, in their friend groups, and in the greater community – even if that means being uncomfortable when speaking out for change.
“It’s what we do together that will make a difference,” Warmerdam said.
Future Dragon Talks are planned.