Choose kindness over cruelty

By Nellie Garlow,

contributing writer

“It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

 

    I used to think I was courageous. I considered myself to be someone who stood against injustice and fought for the mistreated no matter the situation. Whenever I heard someone use the word “retarded” in place of a negative adjective, I made sure to stand firm and call them out (not the best way to make friends, but I’ve always been too disgusted to keep quiet).

Yes, in my eyes I was courageous, a warrior for justice, a modern-day Eleanor Roosevelt. This was how I saw myself until last semester, when I watched one of my fellow classmates relentlessly berate our professor.

 It was definitely SPOT-form season; students itched to get out of class, exhausted from studying for exams. As my classmates began the evaluation, I overheard a conversation in the far side of the room. As the student’s voice escalated, I realized she was bashing our instructor with insults so vile they’d make your skin crawl. By the level of volume she was using, I could tell that she wanted EVERYONE to know how much she hated this woman.

I was blown away. The student’s words were so abusive it felt as if the air had been knocked out of my lungs. Even more so, I loved this professor. I actually thought she was one of the most eloquent people I’d ever met, not to mention the fact that she bent over backwards to help out students. And yet, I said nothing.

 Looking back on the situation, I wish I told her to keep her comments to herself and to stop being so incredibly disrespectful, but I did not. The shock was too severe, and then the moment was lost.

 A few days after the incident occurred I woke up startled in the middle of the night. I realized what was wrong: I was overwhelmed by guilt for not standing up for my professor and suppressing the student’s words of disdain.

Hatred on this campus needs to end.

The day I let that student’s comments go unchecked, I felt as if I had failed my namesake, Mrs. Roosevelt. By not standing up to my classmate, I was committing an injustice myself. I was helping to foster an environment that let cruelty thrive and injustice parade free.

 I think frequently now of Eleanor Roosevelt and her steps towards making the world a more righteous place. I think about how she drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights during a time when women were deemed inferior. Reflecting on all of her accomplishments, I feel energized and empowered. If Mrs. Roosevelt could climb to such heights with such barriers, why couldn’t I? Since that moment, I’ve made a promise to her and myself. A promise that I will not tolerate hate anymore. Not on my campus, not in my community, not on my planet! I promise to stand up against injustice when I encounter it from this point forward.

 Now I turn to you, my fellow Fummers, to stand up with me in this movement towards civility. Let’s think of what we are saying about one another and remember that we are on the same team. We all want to make the world a better place, to have great accomplishments, and to lead productive lives. In order to do so, we must return to the basics. We must come together as a unified F&M and strive for civility, each day choosing kindness over cruelty.

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