Dear Marquette community,
As we enter Mission Week, we would like to invite you personally to join us for a week of reflection, prayer and discussions focused on racial justice. This is an especially important topic for our community and nation, which is why we are addressing it directly from the church’s perspective.
Our campus community will have the opportunity to hear from a variety of excellent Mission Week speakers. We recognize that discussions around racial justice can often be tense and uncomfortable, but we must remember that it is vitally important to engage with such ideas. That is far from easy, but it is necessary. It is even healthy in the long term.
For our students, this exchange of ideas can help form the foundation for how you interact with people for the rest of your life. As you go through your lives, you will not always agree with the perspectives of the people you meet or the things that they say. This may happen at your job, your church or a dinner party. You will often be challenged to seek common ground without abandoning your principles.
Universities today are often a microcosm of our society and reflect our highly polarized political climate. People routinely talk past one another without pausing to consider differing perspectives. Occasionally, as we’ve seen elsewhere, this can even lead to violence.
That is not us. That is not Marquette.
Be The Difference must go far beyond a hashtag. To be the difference, we must respect and value, rather than flee from or shout down, our differences. God chose to create and affirm us in our otherness and difference.
When you encounter a differing viewpoint during Mission Week, your first reaction might be to protest or to launch a comment on social media, which is your right.
However, consider the words of our executive director of community engagement, Dr. Daniel Bergen, who offers another approach: Crane your neck and lean into the tension. Do so with civility.
If something someone says stirs you to anger, take a breath and ask them a question about what they just said. Ask it with respect. If something they said makes sense or challenges a view you hold in a way you didn’t expect, acknowledge that, too.
To find a way through the challenges that face us, we must turn to our Guiding Values and find respectful ways to disagree while finding common ground to solve problems.
As members of this great Marquette community, we owe it to one another to do just that during Mission Week and beyond.
Michael R. Lovell
Rev. Thomas Krettek, S.J.
Vice President for Mission and Ministry