Archive for the 'diversity' Category

Social Justice - Who Walks With You?

Saturday, April 1st, 2006

Who walks with you? What a powerful question. As much as a person makes decisions that are socially responsible, as much as a person is outspoken in regards to social responsibility and as much as a person makes personal strides towards social equity, when we ask each other ‘who walks with you’, we as how powerful our impact, our footprint on society, is. Jonathan Jansen from the University of Pretoria, Republic of South Africa, described his story, the growth and maturation of his life, in the context of this question.

I thoroughly enjoyed this session as Jonathan discussed two schools that went through the process of integration after apartheid in South Africa. He focused his presentation around the concept of leadership within the context of social responsibility and noted several concepts that he has learned through his experiences.

  • Leadership must be corporate. When it is spread out, not only is the workload distributed, but the ownership and relevancy of the leadership is much greater.
  • Leadership in the context of social responsibility is exhausting.
  • Leadership in the context of social responsibility requires a personal commitment to modeling what is expected of who one is leading.

Here are some lines that I jotted down during the presentation.

Language struggles are not simply about language, but about emotion, authority and history.

If the leadership of the school does not reflect respect and integration, then the students will reflect the same.

You cannot expect your students to cross these difficult borders if your life as a leader does not play testimony to an integrated society.

If you are going to lead for social justice, you must ask, ‘what is worth teaching, after all?’.

In this madness about measurement, we have forgotten the broader meaning of educating. What we need to know, is will the pass life?

‘Our history is with us every single day’

My mind raced in thinking about the integration issues we have locally, both with language and with culture. How can a community be moved to embrace diversity. While integration and diversity are a common theme in society today, we will always have challenges in working to understand other people and other cultures - that is just human nature. There is hope, and it requires work and commitment. How far are we willing to push? And more importantly, who is walking with us?

…just my notes - I’d like to think that I’m out there where the left lane ends, but sometimes I’m just not too sure.