Instead of a first year book for the incoming students, we had them write “This I Believe” essays and asked them to read others on the “This I Believe” website. Faculty and staff were asked to participate. This is my contribution.
I believe in justice. I believe in love. I believe that we are all called to do our part to end injustice in the world. This is often hard for people, to speak out. I believe I have been given a gift of speech, to communicate why injustice is wrong and to model how to speak out against it. I believe my love for people, animals and the world is the path to justice.
When I was a little girl, my parents taught me that all people deserved equal treatment in this world. I internalized this but did not realize how it would play out in my life until I was much older. When I was 20 and was living far away from home, I began to see racism in ways I had never seen it in my sheltered Maine upbringing. I began to question why it existed, or still existed, as my father had taught me about MLK and Malcolm X and the civil rights movement through his lens as a Baptist and then a United Methodist minister.
When I took Women’s Studies my Junior year of college, my world opened up. I began to understand how privilege and oppression play out in our world. I understood how I had been privileged in my whiteness, in my lower middle class upbringing, yet how I had been oppressed by my gender, how I had fallen victim to domestic violence and to suppressing my voice.
I went on to get a master’s in Women’s Studies as a way to work for justice. In that program, I began to explore how sexuality plays out in my world. I began questioning the injustice of the women in my life whom I loved, women who identified as lesbians. I shed tears at stories I heard of injustice and oppression against gays and lesbians. I struggled with how I could speak to this injustice, how I could be an ally and eventually how I could come to terms with my own sexuality, that of a bisexual woman.
I believe that we are all meant to bring something to our world. I believe we can fight justice with love. We can model calling out injustice in loving and caring ways. I believe we can be models for our students. I believe the next generation can bring love and hope into this Age of Aquarius. I believe we can heal our world with gentle kindness and light and hope and peace. I believe people can learn to have the courage to speak up. I believe in me. I believe in you.