For What It's Worth: My Response to the Tragedy in Orlando
by: Alex Stubenbort"Imagine there's no countries/ It isn't hard to do/ Nothing to kill or die for/ And no religion too/ Imagine all the people/ Living life in peace"-John Lennon
I'm not sure why I am writing this evening. #EdtechAfterDark has earned a reputation as a chat, blog, and consulting group that focuses on education technology and teaching in general. However, the topic haunting my every thought is not one that is seemingly specific to education; it is human.
In the wake of the tragic events that unfolded in my neighboring city of Orlando less than 24 hours ago, I had the unique blessing of digesting the news alongside family friends (a married couple) that happened to be spending the weekend at our home in Citrus County. Despite loving their company, enjoying the love they show towards our children, and enjoying similar culinary tastes, our house guests stand on the complete opposite side of the political spectrum from my wife and I. Through the years, the husband and wife have debated passionately against my political views to which I've offered equally passionate rebuttals, and today, in the face of tragedy, it was no different. Nothing was off of the table. From if/how legislation should be passed restricting access to firearms to whether the threat of ISIS should be met with force or diplomacy, the issues were ardently debated for hours on end.
Admittedly, there were moments that the entire argument seemed unbelievably futile. No matter how much we believed our position was/is what's best for humanity, it did not change the fact that 50 lives were taken, countless family members and friends were affected, and what was done is done. However, the purpose of our debates is never to change our oppositions' minds on the issues. Although that would be AWESOME, it is fanciful foolishness to believe that such deliberations will result in an individual amending their predispositions. So why do we do it? Why do we waste our breath debating one another's core beliefs? Why do we even bother?
The answer is profound in its simplicity. We debate to get to know each other. We debate to understand that our differences of opinion and our shared love for humanity are NOT mutually exclusive. We debate to empathize with and reach understanding of those we disagree with. Avoiding such courageous conversations robs us of an incredibly important realization; despite our undeniable differences, what we share as brothers and sisters of the human race far outweighs what separates us. Therefore, if there is anything that I would hope and pray educators take away from this post it is that the art of debate cannot be eliminated from our curriculums. Children should not be deprived of such an important lesson. Yes, we are different. Yes, we disagree. But the result of acknowledging our differences can be a celebration of what makes us the same.
May God bless the families affected by this tragedy. Know that the hearts and minds of #EdtechAfterDark are with you all. #PrayForOrlando