Dean's Blog: Forward together: facts, compassion, love, and action
Usually, at this time of year, I enjoy congratulating our graduating students whose perseverance and quest for scientific expertise have taken them to this major life achievement. Although I look forward to celebrating that milestone for our Class of 2022, I can’t help but think of those on the path to that great accomplishment who are affected by the events our nation has recently experienced.
I am writing this with a heavy heart after the tragedies that have taken place within this past week.
Reflecting back on the past few days where we saw senseless violence in Buffalo, NY, Laguna Woods, and Dallas, TX. And unfortunately, the list continues to grow with additional examples of insensible violence and loss of life motivated by fear and the lack of understanding and respect.
Let’s take stock of where we are as a community, a nation, a global society. Our world has just gone through an unprecedented COVID pandemic. Despite concerns for safety and perhaps driven by a sense of normalcy, people are starting to go back out to stores, to church, to work, and to learn. Each time one of these horrendous events occur, it tests our resilience, our well-being, our resolve.
Every single individual in our society should feel safe and respected at all times. We are clearly not living in a society where these basic expectations are being met.
I wish I could say or do something to remove the hurt, anger and fear that we are feeling at this time. I know that is not possible in this format, but I do want to acknowledge the heaviness and sorrow in this moment.
The only thing I feel like I can do today is to denounce the situation we are in. To allow white supremacy rhetoric and conspiracies on “replacement theory” to proliferate and become normalized in our media and conversations is wrong. To hide behind the 2nd amendment and suggest that we cannot make common sense reforms to dramatically reduce the possibility of mass shooting events, motivated by hate or fear, is simply not acceptable.
We must first seek out peace within our own minds and hearts to help others succeed. Consider these thoughts recently shared in a meditation email some members of our community recently received from the Personal Transformation and Courage Institute:
May I be as loving and compassionate as I can be. If I cannot be loving in this moment, may I be kind. If I cannot be kind, may I be non-judgmental. And if I cannot be non-judgmental, may I not cause harm. And if I cannot cause harm, may I cause the least amount of harm as possible.
~ Larry Yang
Imagine if we really internalized these thoughts from Larry Yang, who teaches meditation retreats nationally and has a special interest in creating access to the Dharma for diverse multicultural communities.
Compassion can be described as letting ourselves be touched by the vulnerability and suffering that is within us and within all beings. The full flowering of compassion also includes action.
Please check in on each other, especially our community members who belong to the communities and groups who have been targeted by these abhorrent acts of violence. Now more than ever, we need to care for and take care of each other.
We must denounce these false agendas and narratives in our spheres of influence and replace it with facts, compassion, love and action. I will be taking that step this week with my family, friends and colleagues. I will be contacting my elected officials. I urge you to do so same – push back on the fear and cultivate hope.
I appreciate you as members of our Mason Science community; let’s move forward together.
Here are a few resources if you or a loved one needs additional support:
- Counseling and Psychological Services
- Help handling trauma
- Racial trauma definitions handout
- Anti-racism resources
- Emotional support resources
- Resources for gun violence trauma
- Resources for counselors and clients
- Helping students after a school shooting
- Managing your distress in the aftermath of a shooting
- Seton Hall University's list of resources for coping with racial trauma