To the Editor:
I am a pro-lifer.
There, I said it. Something that I haven't publicly admitted while I was a student at Oberlin, yet something that I firmly believed in.
I'm writing this letter in response to Geoff Mulvihill's essay in last week's newspaper about how the strain of activism in Oberlin is tiring and draining. While I was a student, there were a lot of causes that I firmly believed in, and I actively promoted my ideas. But I'll bet most of you have never heard of my name (and I just graduated last year).
One of the things that I believe to be important as an "activist" is that actions to forward a cause should never deliberately promote hate. I feel that an activist's purpose in promoting a cause should be just that: promoting a cause. I don't understand why people use in-your-face, nasty, inconsiderate ways to get things accomplished. Is it really possible to get things accomplished when you have angered the other side so much that they refuse to listen to you, refuse to even consider your side of the argument? Getting things done sometimes involves give and take and should always involve understanding. If the opposing side has shut off their ears because they are offended, your cause might as well be dead - there is no room for understanding at that point, and nothing will get done.
The biggest problem I had with Oberlin's "activism" is that too many people act as if they think the only way they can get things done is in hateful, spiteful ways. We bring speakers that provoke hatred, we blast horns in people's ears, and we are intolerant of the other side. I personally am sick and tired of not being able to voice an opinion that is different from the Oberlin norm, especially when it's something that I strongly believe in. People are so into attacking people who don't believe in the same things. (My second roommate I had my freshman year transferred out of Oberlin because she felt the same way.) How do people around here expect to get things done when the opposing side turns their backs? We need to have opposing sides face us and talk to us and understand - EDUCATE themselves as well as ourselves so that we all learn of the total picture (instead of being half-assed about half-truths) and THEN act accordingly and with discretion.
So, the reason why you all don't know me as an activist is because I'm not in your face yelling at you. But believe me, I AM getting things done. Try using a friendly way of getting things done - it just might work.
Copyright © 1996, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 124, Number 23; May 3, 1996
Contact Review webmaster with suggestions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Review editorial staff at email@example.com.