One thing that I find interesting is that those parents and students supporting DEI wholeheartedly are very quick to villainize the large group of Unify Westfield parents. They call them “ignorant,” “bigots,” clueless,” “just afraid their kids will turn gay,” “CPS should be called on them,” etc. The UW Instagram page is littered with hate-fueled comments under each post about being Nazis, KKK, or pedophiles.
Westfield Truth, the predominately student run Instagram account, produced a Bingo card to reward teachers and administrators for completing tasks like “Ditch a bigot or homophobic friend.” They also created a power point that dismantles the Christian religion in favor of their own religion where God created all people gender fluid and where homosexuality refers only to pedophiles. This incredible intolerance is quite ironic given the stated desire for inclusion and tolerance.
Given this incredible divide, I am confident that we can find things that both groups could agree upon that would benefit all kids, without animosity between students.
These are a few ideas that we could teach kids and that would provide wisdom, healing, and encouragement:
- In life, we should be cautious about assigning motives to a person’s actions. Since no one is a mind reader, the best way to understand why a person does something is to get to know them better and ask them.
- Develop the self-control to NOT assign a harsh label to a person or people group. When we reduce people to a single label like “hater” or “bigot,” we miss an opportunity to learn tolerance and to understand people’s unique perspectives. Rather we assume the role of judge and jury.
- Tolerance is vital. Tolerance means allowing for people to say things that are rude or insensitive and still be able to remain strong in your own sense of self. Solid. Unwavering. We cannot give power over our own well-being to others.
- Assume the best about people. You want them to do the same for you.
- The current “cancel culture” eliminates the possibility of better understanding people. Rather, it assigns a swift social punishment to those deemed wrong. It establishes one group as superior and the other inferior. Would both sides be happier if we simply allowed for unique perspectives and were strong enough personally to allow them to coexist?
- Be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to become angry. When a person is easily angered, they lose their ability to think logically and rationally in that moment because they start operating out of the emotional part of their brain.
- Command respect rather than demand it. Be a person of such courage, integrity, and wisdom that people cannot help but respect you.
- You are responsible TO other people for your behavior, but you are not responsible FOR other people. Allow each person in your life the freedom to make their own mistakes and learn from them. When you make a mistake, apologize quickly. Don’t take responsibility for another person’s poor choices. Those are theirs to manage.
- Be sure your identity includes A LOT more than your race, gender, or sexual orientation. These attributes are simplistic and superficial. Rather, spend time developing what ELSE defines you. What are your hobbies, interests? What books do you like to read? What is a new thing you are learning? What matters to you? What are your hopes and dreams for your future? Who do you love? When do you feel most at peace?
- Despite there being clubs that celebrate different cultures, genders, and sexual orientations, we must not reduce an individual to a single trait, and we must never speak for a collective group of people as if any belief could be true to for all people in the group. Please see people as individuals.
- Not everyone sees the world like you do. We don’t want to live in a world where everyone is the same. Celebrate diversity in beliefs and perspectives.
- Your most powerful tool to impact change is to model the change that you want to see.
- Be inclusive of people and ideas that are different than you. Be strong in your sense of self. Be wise and discerning. Care for those around you and get to know them as individuals.
These concepts and more would bring unity to our students and strengthen them as individuals which would enhance the collective student body at each of our schools.