Apr 252002


It seems to me that, as of late, we must have lost the meaning of respect in translation.

As I strolled onto campus on Tuesday, I walked along the center of campus as I usually do. As I rounded the corner of the library to go to the Lory Student Center, I was greeted by a two-story-tall picture of an aborted fetus.

It is becoming increasingly clear that, all too often, the American people seek to make their point by being as shocking, scary or nasty as necessary. I myself do it on occasion, vilifying an individual or cause as I see fit.

I admit I was a little taken aback – as were many others, as it would seem. Yet, as taken aback as many of us were, did we see past the grotesque images to the point at hand? Or, alternatively, did we walk by and dismiss the display, closing our minds to the issue?

By allowing ourselves to be alienated by an individual or an idea, we only succeed in losing any opportunity to learn from the situation.

That is especially true in an emotional argument like abortion. We will never be able to see the argument behind either side unless we are willing to look past the flying insults and graphic propaganda.

I find the problem of a closed mind most egregious when it is found in the university setting.

The university setting should be one of open forum and discussion, free exchange of ideas, provocation to think and opportunity to explore.

All too often, I see students who have not yet discovered that university life exists not only for the sole purpose of earning a degree. That degree can and should be enhanced by taking advantage of the diverse student body here at CSU.

I challenge anyone to name another environment in which we will find men, women, Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, African Americans, Caucasian Americans, individuals from a multitude of countries – you get the point.

What we should be doing is taking the opportunity to learn from our fellow students, not just our teachers.

As an individual who will (hopefully) be taking a walk at graduation this year, I would say that I have learned just as much outside the classroom as I have from all my professors.

Can each of you say the same?

Next time you see or hear something that offends you, ask yourself why. Nothing is learned or gained from the issuance of a well-known string of epitaphs in the general direction of the offense.

Next time you are offended, don’t make assumptions about the source. It is not their duty to make sure you go through life unoffended.

Next time you disagree with a column or a speech or a large two-story display on the Plaza, utilize the forum of which you are a part and present your view to the public.

You’re confused. Why talk about respect?

I’m not talking about respect in the common politically correct method. I’m talking about respect not of individuals, but of an individual’s rights.

We should all respect the right of an individual to speak their opinion, however offensive it may be. We all have the right to ignore them – or better yet, to listen in the hope that we might glean some useful knowledge or perspective from their stance.

Finally, I will paraphrase a couple of things we should all bear in mind. First, no one can make you feel bad or offended or otherwise without first having your consent. Second, while we may never agree with a word that an individual speaks, we should all defend his enduring right to speak it – that is what makes America great.

Scott Wilkinson is a senior majoring in civil engineering.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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