“I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues.” ― Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

There’s been a lot of talk going around IWU about diversity… apparently it’s diversity month here or something, and February is Black History Month. I think that’s grand. Those people of different skin colors that have put so much into our country specifically and our world in general deserve to be celebrated.

I feel, though, that here at the ‘WU, it’s been blown out of proportion. For those of you who don’t go here: (I’ll try not to be too cynical…)

Walked into chapel last Friday and there’s an all black band warming up onstage. Oh, we must be talking about diversity today. And this isn’t just a one time thing. Happens fairly often. There seems to be a direct correlation between shade of skin onstage and chapel topics regarding diversity. Earlier on in January, for example, it was Hispanic heritage week, or something, and the chapel band was pretty much all Hispanic.

I don’t have a problem with an all black band, or with a Hispanic group. I think it’s neat to worship in the different styles. But it feels like the school is just trying to fill a quota, like they see that it is Black History Month and they scramble to get black people at the forefront so that no-one is offended. It looks like appeasement.

Today in chapel, the first speaker gave us a bunch of numbers about how our school, and most American churches, are not diverse. Something like 92.5% of IWU is white, and only 5% of evangelical churches are multiethnic (not predominantly white… and by that I mean under 60% white.) I do think that a lack of diversity is a problem, but not one that can be fixed by the way things are now. Einstein said that “no problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”

There’s a Morgan Freeman quote circulating the interwebs about diversity, in which he says that the only way to get rid of racism is to stop talking about it. I respect the man, and his opinion, but I think he’s missing a piece of it. This whole diversity issue is not going to go away if we ignore it, whether that be in everyday life, in our churches or in our schools. You aren’t going to be “racially aware” if you ignore the black kid that stands in front of you in line, beside you in class, or behind your pew in church. You are going to be racially aware when you treat them just like you would a white person (or, if you’re a person of color, like they are one of yours.)

I grew up in that 5% of evangelical churches that was multi-racial, so coming to predominately white IWU has been a bit of a culture shock. I’m not saying I have this whole thing down, because I definitely do not, but I do find it easier to look past the outside. I still have trouble with stereotyping people of color, and it’s something I know I need to work on. But at our church, we all came together to worship. At Camp T, which had people from all backgrounds and skin tones, we all came together to play and learn. That’s being culturally diverse. achieving the greater goal.

We do have to recognize the differences; nothing will get fixed if we do not. We have to bring them up and fix the problems before we can stop talking about it. We will stop talking about it because we don’t need to. Because it’s no big deal. Because we are all the same in God’s eyes.

Granted, every people group has their differences. A black pastor will probably draw more black churchgoers than white ones. This is not wrong; in fact, that’s the way it’s supposed to be. (Every culture has its plusses and minuses. That’s the way the world works.) One of the greatest mistakes we can make in trying to become diverse is to look at the numbers. People respond better to their culture, generally, than to someone else’s culture. You can’t change that. What you can do is love. Accept the differences; God made them that way for a reason. (If you look hard enough, you’ll find someone who thinks you have a lot of odd things going on too.)

Accept the differences and learn. Just love. It’s hard. It can be hard to get past stereotypes and past injuries. But guarantee someone somewhere will see you, and you will remind them of some injury, something painful from their past. You didn’t do anything, you’ve been a church-goer all your life, and A-plus student who volunteers on the weekends (or you rarely attend church and bomb half of your tests. Whatever. You didn’t do a thing to this person.) You can’t do anything about their reaction. But you can love. That’s what He calls us to do.

And now I’ll try to ignore the fact that while ranting about being culturally diverse, I wrote with a predominantly white, female bias. Oh well.

This man (beast/mythological creature/tree-hugger?) says it extraordinarily well…

bible

“At the far end of town where the grickle-grass grows, and the wind smells slow and sour when it blows… ”

Good story.

 

And with that, friends,

Quel du.

 

 

Postscript (cause that looks so much more legit that a simple “p.s.”) : if I managed to offend any of you, I’m sorry. If I was legitimately wrong, explain and I’ll reconsider. If you have a problem with an opinion, well, those are much harder to change. Though I’m open to it. Mostly. Sorta. I realize that I probably foot my put in my mouth (put my foot in my mouth… that was completely unintentional…) a few times, and I’ll regret it a few years (months) out.

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“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door…”

“You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

If you don’t know who said that, well… go watch Lord of The Rings. With subtitles.

Anyways.

My Fine Arts class is not my absolute favorite class this semester, but I’m surviving it. The best thing that has come out of it so far, besides getting to tear up paper in class and make tiny paper airplanes out of them (yeah… that class. And no, the airplanes were not sanctioned…) was the trip to an art museum. Lauren, Ellie and I all needed to go, so we decided to make a weekend of it and visit Ellie’s sister Gina in Cleveland. Sonja came alon as well, providing transport (the Limeousine. Something like that.)

After and adventurous, six hour drive down, we arrived at Gina and Russ’s apartment. There was a six year old and a puppy.

Basically wonderful.

Saturday was our big day that satarted with about five inches of snow. It was gorgeous, but made traveling a little risky, even in the city. After laying around the house, wathcing music videos and listening to little Ella sing and play the djembe, we made our way to Melt.

Melt is a sandwich shop that pretty much serves only grilled cheese. And not just any grilled cheese. This was the special of the week:

One pound of bacon total

Yeah. That kind of place. Lauren and I split a Parma Italy (breaded chicken, pesto, parmesian cheese…) as big as her head. Not even kidding.

My half!

Then there was this tasty chocolate-maraschino cherrybread pudding thing… demolished.

It was wonderful. Kind of like “Ye Olde Spaghetti Factory,” if you’ve been to Indy. It was kind of kitschy, but really cool. The backs of the menus, for instance, were old album covers. Cool like that.

Then we went to this really cool free trade store called City Buddha and it was amazing. There was handmade jewelry and scarves and sarongs and wooden statues and mosaics and even this super neat old bed:

 

Then we got underway to the art museum. I’d never been to an art musem before, so I was definitely looking forward to it. I’m mmore inclined towards sculpture than toward painting, but being able to see any of these works that I’d heard about was so incredible. I chose a painting by Eugène Carrière (a Symbolist painter) as my work of art to write about:

I ust really like that painting. It’s monochromatic, but there’s depth and emotion to it…

We moved on and looke at some other cool stuff; honestly, the medival weaponry part was the best.

It was wonderful. There were Egyptian exhibits, and Byzantine works, and Picassos. It was terrific.

From there we went to a shop in little Italy to get some canolis, which were terrific.

From thence we scored a sweet parking spot at an adorable little bookstore; there was a cat running around. And floor to celing bookshelves. And ladders.

 

It was such an amazing day. Good food, quaint shops, art… I mean come on! We finished out the day with studying, some Harry Potter, and Russ’s amazing potato soup.

Thesse ladies are wonderful and I’m so glad I got to spend so much time with them.

 

The Road goes ever on and on, down from the door where it began. 

Now far ahead the Road has gone, and I must follow, if I can,

Pursuing it with eager feet, until it joins some larger way

Where many paths and errands meet. And whither then? I cannot say.

 

Aa’ menealle nauva calen ar’ malta

“I always do the first line well, but I have trouble doing the others.” – Moliere

Moliere was a great playwright. The French do know how to do drama…

Possible slights to that European nationality aside, Moliere had a point. The first line (in his case, of a play) was easy. It’s when you have to start looking at others that things get tough. Lines, or choices, or roads, or whatever, inevitably lead to other lines, choices or roads.  This applies to a lot of life. For example, my choice to open my laptop led to another choice: to blog or do homework? That choice led to another: what to write about? And you see it just continues, until it reaches the consequence, whether good or bad.

There’s a wonderful Calvin and Hobbes strip about this principle, where Calvin illustrates it way better than I could. They’re careening through the woods in a red wagon, while Calvin waxes eloquent on the principle of change. By making a choice to turn onto a certain path, he says, they are presented with another choice, and then another, and another. Ultimately, this leads to a consequence. In their case, Calvin and Hobbes go flying off the edge of a cliff and into a creek. It’s great stuff.

But back to Moliere and the lines. (I think this all ties together somehow… it made sense in my head.) There’s a line out there, and you cross it. Then there’s another one that’s more confusing and raises the stakes. I’ve been knocking up against a lot of these lines recently, and I’ve started listing them just to see the ones I come up against most often. And things just look a lot more manageable when I write them down.

Stuff like:

suck it up vs. stick with your convictions

self-discipline vs. self-abuse

being open-minded vs. not knowing who you are anymore

giving second chances vs.  staying safe (physically, emotionally)

trying new things vs. what’s worked before and still does

being cautious vs. thinking way too much

doing hard things vs. not taking a break

 

Usually I like brain puzzles, but these ones hurt my head after a while. I don’t have them figured out. The more I think about them, the more questions I come up with. It’s a grand cycle.

Maybe I should have done homework instead…

 

“Careful. We don’t want to learn from this.”-  Calvin (Bill Watterson)