Leaders are people who do the right thing; managers are people who do things right
We can see the breakdown of communication before our very eyes, it becomes all the more important to commit ourselves to open dialogue and communication grounded in decency and respect. Likewise, we must remind ourselves that our communities are “shared by all or many,” and it is precisely in the gray area of these diverse viewpoints in which we will find, in the words of Pirkei Avot, the Divine Presence.
For example, let’s look at what happened with students protested Vice President Mike Pence from delivering the Commencement Speech at Notre Dame. The tragic outcome left me thinking these students are surely destined to a lifetime of pacifiers, and safe circles inside a cocoon. America is a public, political, theological, democratic, arena full of logical apologists who live in the real world. It is Notre Dame's tradition to invite first-year presidents to give the commencement address. In 1981 we had President Reagan, 2009 Obama, however, shortly after election day John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame, said he was reconsidering the tradition of inviting new presidents to speak at commencement.
Rather than deal with the media attention and invite President Trump to speak, University President Father John Jenkins made the decision to invite VP Mike Pence to give the Commencement Address. Father Jenkins said he didn’t “want the surrounding controversy to distract from the central purpose of commencement."
My take on this is simple, Notre Dame students checked their brains at the door. Students are expected to be able to think critically. The university is a point of study and intellectual base where students develop and exercise critical thinking skills in a safe place, even if it includes a room full of political opposing viewpoints. When did logic die? America IS a public, theological, democratic, arena full of apologists who live in communities. This student rant is diagnostic of lack of academia standards and importing wisdom into students through knowledge as a path to unity and community. It should not be a challenge to sit through an accomplished speaker giving a prepared “motivating” Commencement Address with hospitality and respect from our elected President or VP of the United States!
The press claimed the protesting campaign consisted of students holding white boards featuring quotes from VP Pence that are "racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, offensive, or ostracizing" to members of the Notre Dame community. Rather than take this opportunity to teach students "how" to apply logic and critical thinking skills, Rev. Jenkins lowered himself to "we the people" illiteracy.
Why would Notre Dame dismantle a self-professed tradition by declining to extend an invitation to the new US President at their May Commencement Ceremony? The University of Notre Dame is America’s flagship Catholic University. The mission statement reads the Catholic identity of the university depends upon, and is nurtured by, the continuing presence of a predominant number of Catholic intellectuals. This ideal has been consistently maintained by the university leadership throughout its history.
Vice President Pence, was raised Catholic. He served as a Catholic youth minister and like most believers consistently works to unite Catholics and Evangelicals to promote a faith based on the Bible.
It is fitting that in the 175th year of the University it would recognize its native son who served the state of Indiana and now the nation the honor of this year’s commencement speaker.
Can you imagine a protest at The Islamic American University, one of the most renowned Islamic colleges in the US if Keith Ellison was asked to speak. Their mission statement is to educate Muslim students about the Quran as well as the deep-rooted Muslim traditions, known as Sunnah. Islamic colleges are private institutions just like Catholic and Evangelical colleges each with deep rooted aspects of their faith.
Protesting Vice President Mike Pence from speaking at a "Catholic" University is as ridiculous as it would be protesting Islamic converted Keith Ellison from giving a commencement speech in America because of his conservative faith. Would students protest and call him homophobic or racist?
Keith Ellison is the first Muslim to be elected to the U.S. Congress. Islam is clear in its prohibition of homosexual acts. Islamic scholars cite the following for condemning homosexuality, based on their teachings of the Qur'an and Sunnah:
I read this great commentary on Leviticus 9:1-11:47 by Rabbi Justin Goldstein. He states that communication is the foundation of community and we are literally having separate conversations.
When seeking to establish a community grounded in values and decency, it becomes easy to view those who share a different perspective as an enemy or an adversary. Yet, the Jewish tradition comes and pushes us to see beyond this black-and-white dichotomy — to step into the gray and learn what discernible truths there may be even, or perhaps especially, in those viewpoints that contradict our own.
We give precedence to viewpoints to which we already adhere, and we find ways to dismiss those ideas that seem to contradict that which we already believe.
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