As our school community came together to listen to Holocaust survivor Erika Jacoby and former German Nazi Ursula Martens Jan. 16, we witnessed two women reconcile their experiences on opposite sides of history (read more on A3).
Both women eloquently demonstrated the power of being vulnerable in difficult discussions and offering empathy.
Throughout the most recent government shutdown, the leaders of our country demonstrated the opposite as they threw combative language across the aisle and devastated thousands of people in their refusal to consider other perspectives.
Impersonal social media instead of face-to-face interaction has made it even easier to deny accountability.
If only our leaders were as committed as Jacoby and Martens to promoting the general welfare of our world, regardless of their vastly diverging opinions.
As one of our features mentions, understanding that duty goes beyond oneself is a concept that we feel is lost on our representatives, yet remains crucial to a productive society (read more on B7).
We have been so lucky to receive an education through which we have been exposed to many examples of when the common human experience has been ignored in favor of discriminating against the stigmatized, and often innocent, ‘other.’
This has manifested in countless communities, era after era, where a majority has refused to celebrate the beauty that can be found in learning from differing perspectives. In our English classes, our history classes, and even in our math and science classes, we have seen the positive outcomes that can result from collaboration.
We have learned about periods of human conflict, and we understand that no good can come from refusing to communicate with people who we perceive to be different than us.
Moving forward on our pursuit of becoming a more diverse and inclusive community, we should heed Jacoby and Martens’ advice and never forget the dangers of turning a blind eye to injustices being done to our fellow human beings.
Within our school community, we recognize that we have a certain level of commonality between us.
However, in order to truly achieve the goal of our mission statement, we must actively celebrate our differences, allowing our discussions to help us further empathize with each individual person we encounter.
In the past, we recognize that there has been inevitable controversy over speakers that have promoted a certain ideology or belief that did not resonate with members of the audience.
Although it is important and necessary to learn how to listen to and respect those who you don’t agree with, having both sides present at this most recent assembly to explain their experience was incredibly impactful.
No matter political affiliation or personal belief, it was so valuable for all present at the assembly to learn from Jacoby and Martens’ ability to have a difficult, yet mature and open, conversation about a sensitive topic.
We hope that the school uses this event as a launching point and continues to emphasize the importance of empathetic and respectful interactions between people with drastically different backgrounds.