We Choose Love. We choose love over hate and violence, because in choosing love we choose all the things that make humanity strong. In the wake of terrorist attacks and random acts of violence, it is easy to become afraid and to point fingers at alleged culprits and motivations, guilty or not. This past Sept. 11 marked the fifteenth anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and the three-month anniversary of the Pulse shooting. Regardless of the reasons for these acts of violence—be they political, religious, philosophical, or personal—we at Rollins choose love because it builds unity, cooperation, and peace. However, this movement cannot be enacted through a homogenous group of people.
After 9/11 and again after Pulse, Muslims were targeted in violent acts of revenge conceived in anger. Not only is this cruel to those who did not have a single thing to do with those acts of violence; it serves to sunder a society composed of many histories.
Random acts of misplaced vengeance are unfair and callous to the loved ones of victims who may want justice or simply comfort. There is no comfort or justice to be found in persecution.
At Tars Talk: We Choose Love, those present engaged in discussion about the attacks both on 9/11 and at Pulse. There was a variety of views and opinions between generations and individuals. In the words of one attendee, “It’s difficult to rationalize a pre- and post-9/11 America.” 9/11 caused such a culture and perspective shift that, indeed, it seems completely impossible to comprehend all the events that led up to it and the events that followed.
A belief developed in the group, which may prove controversial, was that asking “why” is not something we should do. We should not use blame as a coping mechanism; always asking why can lead to accusations. We chose love instead—so that we may take positive steps forward.
“Oppression builds up,” said another attendee. After the Pulse shooting, many LGBTQA+ students felt a sense of unease. Many felt unsafe as a member of the LGBTQA+ community even before; after the fact, it was shocking to many of those present who felt society had made so much progress. Some at the Tars Talk felt that there is now almost a societal requirement to support the LGBTQA+ community, but that some may not actually support the community in their heart. This is why we choose love.
Reverend Katrina Jenkins, Dean of Religious Life, has chosen love. In fact, she created the We Choose Love campaign as a force for unity and peace on campus. Reverend Jenkins told me she wanted to find common ground between different political, social, theological perspectives and affiliations with Love being the unifying and ubiquitous factor. Reverend Jenkins hopes to have interfaith dialogue, present speakers, and create a academic safe space for hard discussion throughout the entire school year. She wishes to depolarize today’s society by encouraging mutual respect, starting here at Rollins.
What is the purpose of a liberal education if not to challenge your present view of the world and evolve it by listening to others’ perspectives?