Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Final Post for 2010

Dear DVC International Students,

We have entered the holiday season here in the U.S. The Jewish holiday of Hannukah is coming to a close. The Christian season of Advent has begun, leading up to Christmas Day, the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. African Americans will celebrate Kwanzaa later this month. Many people will observe the Winter Solstice in a couple of weeks. And there may be more holy and special days celebrated by various Americans across the country, occasions of which I am not aware.

Whatever significance this season holds for specific individuals and groups, one central theme seems to unite most or all of the observances, and that is the theme of light. Hannukah is the festival of the lights; Christians celebrate the coming of the Light of the World. Kwanzaa commemorates African heritage and culture by the lighting of a kinara candle. And winter solstice, significant in many religions both old and new, observes the return of the light, of longer days and shorter nights.

We in the twenty-first century claim to be enlightened, to live in the light. Yet there are many who still live in the darkness of ignorance. This sad fact is displayed prominently in the media by the many tragic cases of bullying occuring in this country. In recent years an alarming number of young people who were bullied by others for being different in some way have taken their own lives. Several of these young people were victims of cyber-bullying. In other words, social media websites and cell phone networks were the vehicles used by the bullies to direct cruel words and images to their victims.

Whether bullying occurs in cyber-space or face-to-face, it is simply and plainly wrong. It is never acceptable to cause harm, either physically, mentally, or emotionally, to another person because they are different. Whether they are gay, overweight, or mentally, physically, or socially challenged, difference is not an excuse to express cruelty. Neither should followers of different religions, adherents of different political affiliations, nor members of different socio-economic groups fear for their safety and well-being because of their differences.

As we enter the season of the light, let us all be enlightened individuals. Let's be kinder, more respectful citizens of the world. A bumper sticker on a faculty vehicle at DVC states, "Be the change you want to see in the world." What a better world this would be if bullying at all levels became extinct. Such a global change starts with me and with you.

Happy holidays, everyone!