Contributing through Challenge, Part Two

June 14, 2018

During the 2018 Commencement Dinner on May 24, SSM President, Nick Stoneman offered a reflection to the seniors, family members, trustees, and faculty. Here is the second installment of a three-part series that highlights how we can contribute through challenge – challenging society’s norms, challenging injustices, and finally, challenging ourselves.

The second way I would like to see you contribute is, on the one hand, less grandiose, but on the other, perhaps for many of you, far more difficult.

Put succinctly, I want you to contribute to the well being of others by challenging the injustices you may see occurring around you in your daily life.

What does that mean?

  • When you hear a joke that is at the expense of others – whether it be racist, sexist, or homophobic, don’t grin or pretend to go along with it, or lower your head as though you didn’t hear it. Challenge it. Speak out. Set things right.
  • When you are in the locker room with your team, when you are at that party with your friends, when you move into the workforce, settle into a neighborhood – be that person who tells it like it is and does not tolerate the marginalizing of others, but instead shows compassion and care and offers a welcoming embrace to all.
  • Set aside your own well being, and think of the others you can support. Will you be unpopular? Perhaps. But will you be able to look in the mirror with pride and a sense of purpose and dignity each morning? Absolutely.
  • We need your generation to lead. We need your energy and vitality to build bridges, to connect disparate groups, to wave the flags of equity and safety and humanity.

This is not easy work. Each of you have to find your style, your voice, your approach, but have to make that discovery to make our world a better place. It can be through a camera lens, a blog, an association you join or one you create, through the music you write, the sermons you may give, and how you, one day, raise your children.

But find your platform and then use it and challenge the wrongs that intersect with your daily lives – and in this way, CONTRIBUTE. Doing so will serve as an inspiration to others and ultimately make an enduring difference in the complex fabric of our society.

To be continued with the Part Three….