Open Letter to Grace College
By Abigail Moellering
Dear Grace College staff, faculty and students,
I want to emphasize that this is not an attack on any one individual. I am not aiming to judge, but rather I am attempting to broaden your perspective about the community you are a part of. I hope you are able to read my words with an open mind and a spirit of love.
The assumptions you make every time you address your audience affect those whom you address. Your words have power and influence and every time you speak, it would be wise to remember that.
The ability this community has to project its own morals and ideologies on those within it is staggering. However, it is not helpful or even endearing. The members of this Grace community desperately need to shatter the illusion of the “bubble.” Everyone in attendance at this academic institution is unique. I don’t mean that in a self-indulgent way that earns everyone a participation trophy. I mean it in a deeper, more important sense. There are countless people at this school that do not agree with you about moral and social issues. No matter what your stance on said issues is, that statement remains true. These people sit next to you, they live on your hall, they teach your classes. This campus, despite the idea that is so frequently perpetuated, is a diverse place.
I’m going to tell you something that may come as a shock. Bear with me.
Everyone at this school is not conservative, or evangelical, or heterosexual, or republican, or even Christian.
That is okay. The diversity of this campus is paramount to its continuation. So with this knowledge in mind, please stop addressing everyone as if they fall into the same social, economical, religious, sexual and political brackets.
This is a personal issue. I am one of the people who does not fit into many of the above-mentioned categories. I want you to know that your assumptions and self-indulgent ignorance are harmful. Even if you firmly believe that people who live differently than the Grace ideal are wrong, pretending that these people don’t exist is not helping your cause. The number of times I have felt genuinely hated by this community because of who I am is astounding. I am not trying to gain sympathy, but rather trying to help you realize that your words and actions have an impact.
If all the people you spend time with agree with you, look like you and sound like you, you need to get out more. Inoculation into ignorance does not make it a virtue.
All this being said, no one in a minority group wants to be your token friend. Respect, not condescension, is the goal here. Really listen to people. Learn about who they are and what they believe. Humans are surprising creatures. Assumptions take away some of life’s magic.
To all of those who feel “other” on campus, know that you are not alone. To those who sit in anxious silence while their existence is discussed and dissected in a classroom, I see you and I know your struggle. Reach out. Don’t be afraid to share yourself with others when you feel that you can do so safely. Community can exist for you on this campus, too.
There is room for all on this planet.
There is room for all at the foot of Christ’s throne.
“There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”
Galatians 3:28 (NRSV)