We often talk about tough issues and ask hard questions here at John Brown University. We wrestle with issues of faith and science. We have talkback sessions about racial reconciliation and the church. We hosted a conference last semester to discuss differences and similarities between the Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox traditions of Christianity. Each year, we have a chapel in which students can ask our president about any topic, such as suggesting warm-cookie Wednesday and how the school is addressing the concerns of LGBT students.
These topics are difficult to discuss and have differing opinions. However, it is important to respect others, despite their differing opinions and even different worldviews.
We The Threefold Advocate commend the students of John Brown University for their willingness to discuss these difficult topics while maintaining respect for their peers. Christians, especially members of Christian universities, seem to constantly discuss how to handle these types of hard conversations—about LGBT rights, about race, about social justice—and JBU does a good job at this.
However, there are ways to increase our respect and openness. We The Threefold Advocate urge students to embrace new opinions and worldviews. Watch different news channels to experience different political views. Talk to someone from a different culture than the one in which you were raised. Don’t shut out people who disagree with you; listen to what they have to say and empathize with them. Do not hastily judge someone simply because he or she is different than you.
When we reach out from our comfort zones, we stretch ourselves—mentally, physically, spiritually and even emotionally. We grow and learn through these new experiences. When we interact with people from another culture, for example, we learn about new languages, political views, social issues, customs, music and food.
Not only do we better ourselves, but we encourage others to share their experiences without fear or shame. When we open ours minds and hearts to people different than ourselves, we create an environment of mutual respect. We The Threefold Advocate urge you to remember this next time you disagree with someone or judge them for an opinion different than your own. We want JBU to remain a safe place for us to all to be open and honest with one another, even with difficult issues.