What do you stand for?

5 Oct

Yesterday I posted on Yale’s ongoing struggle to define freedom of speech (http://www.yalealumnimagazine.com/issues/2011_07/feature_freespeech.html). My takeaway is an admittedly uneasy respect for the university’s hierarchy of considerations in evaluating who and what it must protect. According to Yale: free speech supercedes civility or respect, but not safety.

The university’s thoughtfulness in not just identifying core values, but recognizing their different bearings on driving institutional thinking and action prompted me to reflect: Organizationally, what do I stand for?  What is Blink’s raison d’etre/bottom line/guiding value/non-negotiable?

The right to thrive.

Blink’s mission is to help individuals and their communities to thrive.

Above championing any particular point of view or group interest, Blink values mutual, symbiotic thriving (if only because it’s simply not possible for one part–even a majority part–of an organism or community to flourish while the rest languishes).

Yes, I have my own beliefs, biases and preferences. But when I’m working with a school, I don’t need the educators to get it (whatever “it” is). I just need them to do their best teaching and learning, and to facilitate students’ best learning and engagement with their education, each other and the world.

And that’s what I mean by “thriving.” Multiculturalism is not always be easy, pretty or joyful, but neither should it always be oppressive, constrictive and hard. People–not just students–thrive when they are challenged, learning and growing. They thrive when they are recognized. They thrive when they are connected with other people and with an awareness and role in things that are larger than themselves. And they thrive when they help others to thrive.

Diversity is critical to that thriving. We are social by nature, and biology and evolution (and just plain having senses) cause us to notice similarities and differences between ourselves and others. Experience then weaves bias into the differences we notice: we form ideas about what and who is normal, good and bad. We can’t help being biased–it’s only human. However, we can choose not to act on our biases; we can choose not to discriminate for or against people. In other words, we can choose whether to interfere with or facilitate other people’s ability to thrive.

And that’s what Blink stands for: the right to thrive, not “regardless of identity,” but fully embracing our identities.

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