Seeing Each Other in the Kaleidoscope of Humanity

A few weeks ago, I attended a talk by Dr. Timothy Shriver, son of R. Sargent Shriver and Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the couple who brought us the Peace Corps and the Special Olympics. Timothy Shriver is now the chairman of the Special Olympics. His talk was inspiring and captivating. Dr. Shriver’s main message was that each of us is unique, precious, and adds valuable diversity to humanity. We should not be judged by looks, color of skin, religion, intelligence, gender, sexual orientation, or athletic ability, but by who we are and by what we bring to the kaleidoscope of humanity. Everyone has something to contribute, everyone belongs, everyone is beautiful in their own way. Everyone has the ability to bring joy, a purpose, and deserves respect.

He offered a poem titled “Just Because,” written by a 10-year-old named Melanie Garcia:

  Just because I am sensitive

I am not dramatic

I am not fragile

I am not weak

   I am emotionally intelligent

   Just because I am smart

I am not lonely

I am not a loser

I am not awkward

    I am intelligent

   Just because I am 10

I am not immature

I am not helpless

I am not worthless

    I am young

   Just because I am a girl

I am not worried about my looks

I am not bad at sports

I am not weak

   I am me!

As we celebrate my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, let’s cherish family, friends, and colleagues for what they are, not for arbitrary notions of what we think they should be. And, let us be grateful for being part of an extraordinarily diverse community dedicated to creating and imparting knowledge.

We have the honor and privilege of shaping the minds and characters of people at the beginning of their productive lives, each of them a unique gift to society. As we walk the campus and encounter colleagues, speak to each other of the privilege to be here and to contribute to growing the minds and lives of others, and thank each other for a job well done.

-Rafael L. Bras

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