Tuesday, November 19, 2013

SLLO Reflections: Liking Isn’t Helping

In preparing for the semester ahead, I've done a lot of looking into social media and various news outlets to seek inspiration for leadership moment prompts.  Perhaps is it my own natural bias at play, but I usually gravitate towards those which don’t require a thorough knowledge of current world events.  I mostly choose those which can be set up quickly and then we can move into the conversation and reflection part without anyone feeling like they've attended a lecture at their exec meeting.  But in seeking out those inspirations today, I came across the following brief post which challenged me to reconsider my approach to those moments:

In processing the meaning behind this marketing campaign “Liking Isn't Helping”, I’m struck with the question of whether or not I've fully done my part (for myself or my students) to challenge us to move beyond just surface awareness of need in the world and into actual committed assistance.  Now, it bears stating here that one thing I absolutely LOVE about working with Aggies is that when they see a need, a very high percentage of them will mobilize to try to address is (thus the origin of Big Event, The Red, White, and Blue Out, etc…).  Nevertheless, we are all guilty at one time or becoming caught in the Aggie Bubble and not seeing what is occurring beyond the campus proper. 

Although social media news reports and heart-wrenching images can be distributed practically instantaneously, sometimes another instant is as long as we spend to click the Like button or “show support” without it ever actually breaking into our subconscious.  This might be a slight balm to our spirit to feel like we've “done something”, even if it’s something small, but I think what this campaign seeks to remind us is that we can’t stop there.  Basic awareness that the realities behind these images actually exist just isn't enough.

Therefore, my commitment for the coming semester is to push beyond the surface and not to shy away from the conversations and reflections that might take a bit longer but that help my students realize that these issues are very real in the world.  They will probably take me out of my own comfort zone, and I might have to work twice as hard to keep my personal politics out of the conversation, but if even one of my students leaves this year and chooses to commit themselves to the higher purpose of making a difference on a national or global scale, then it was all worth it.

- Sarah Edwards

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