Dedicated To: Hendric, Morgan and Ashleig
Hey peeps, this is a letter of apology. You were owed a world in which you all can live your lives safely and in peace. Less than fifty percent of you will inherit that. The horrifying truth for those of you who are female is that one in five of you will experience sexual assault or attempted sexual assault in college. You will find a legal system that will not provide you with justice. You are likely to find that your university is more concerned about protecting its reputation than your human rights. They might even try to silence you about the tragedy. Almost all of you will be the target of gender based disrespect or love someone who is. I am extremely sorry that we let you down.
This sounds like a digression but it isn’t. I was in high school during the nineties. Before the nineties gay and lesbian rights were virtually unheard of. Open disrespect of gays and lesbians was completely socially acceptable. Prior to the nineties it was dangerous for people to be openly gay because they might become the target of violent hate crimes and they had little to no legal recourse. They lived in fear. I know that it’s hard to imagine now, but it’s true.
There was a lot of activism for gay and lesbian rights during the nineties. Probably the most important part of that was the One in Ten Movement. I was a part of that one. There were three things that I loved about it. A friend of mine is a lesbian so I was helping someone who I love. Also, I was creating important social change. This is the mind blowing one. What you had to do to be a part of the One in Ten Movement was *almost nothing!*
So, I’m creating a model that doesn’t cut into your time for enjoying life because we want to keep our priorities straight! All that you had to do to be a part of that movement was learn to recognize homophobia and correct it when you saw it. And, back then it was so common and intrinsic to the culture that our gay and lesbian friends had to coach us on it and explain it to us. However, it’s now 2010 so I’m just including video clips. When we heard homophobic comments we had to say something like, “I have a lesbian friend and I really don’t appreciate that.” Obviously, around ten percent of you will need to be a little more motivated than that. But, I want to make this as simple and easy for most of you as it was for me.
Thoreau writes that, “Wisdom is not gained but lost with age.” It’s similar to Jay-Z’s, “Forever Young.” Warren Bennis, the world’s authority on leadership, observes that leaders see what, “could be” rather than what is. There is another group who is capable, willing to, and excited about seeing what could be. It’s you! It’s one of the wisdoms that Thoreau refers to. I hope that you all will keep it for the rest of your lives. And I hope that you will use that wisdom today. Obviously, some of you will need to do a little extra work, but for about ninety percent of you creating real social change is as simple as watching a few short video clips and making a few simple decisions.
A world in which one is physically safe and treated with respect is a birthright.
Go claim your birthright!