The news out of Ferguson, New York City, and Charlottesville, made me shake my fists at the ceiling and ask, “Why? Why have we been taught to value institutions, however corrupt, over human life? Why does our society continue to glorify violence over justice, kindness, and respect?” I have no answers to these questions, but I do know this: it must stop and change starts with us.
I understand that teaching our children Common Core concepts has merit, but what about the common core of compassion, mindfulness, and nonviolence? I know there is value in math, science, and the proper use of the English language, but they are worthless unless we first learn to treat one another with respect and decency.
What we need are new standards, standards that aren’t measured by a state administered exam on a specific day, but by our own daily actions. When I was a student at UVA’s Darden School, we had to write and sign an oath at the end of every exam that stated the work that we did was ours and ours alone. I want to see everyone, everywhere, accept an Honor Code that includes conduct that goes far beyond UVA’s oath against lying, cheating, and stealing. I want an Honor Code that elevates humanity and denounces violence in all its ugly forms.
Reflecting on today’s news, I’m reminded of the quote “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good [people] to do nothing.” Collectively, we have within our power, in our lifetimes, to create a tidal shift in how we treat one another. And of course, how we treat others is how our world is shaped.
We have the chance now to create a better and more peaceful world for our children and future generations. But we have to raise our voices in unison and in the name of all people everywhere. It is time for goodness to have its reign, and it starts in each of our mirrors. It’s time for us to put aside all the titles we carry around—where we work, where we live, where we came from, how much money we have, what gender, race, and religion we are—and recognize the one thing that binds us together forever: we’re all on Team Human. Let’s act like it.