Bryan Stevenson Campus Commentary Revision

This past semester, I attended Bryan Stevenson’s speech to the Davidson community. I took four main points away from his lecture: be proximate, change the current narrative, have hope, and become comfortable with the uncomfortable. Firstly, Stevenson emphasized the only significantly impactful volunteerism and activism is usually done while in close proximity to the addressed problem. Instead of sitting comfortably separated from injustice, people with truly pure intentions will seek out the issue. This action allows one to forge an emotional connection to a subject thus feeding motivation and determination to help. In Tamura’s unit 3, she emphasized the same importance of gaining proximity. When in close location to someone, the onlooker is able to imagine the other person’s situation creating a sense of compassion. Dr. Denham emphasized Meinhof’s belief in action over words during his Unit 8 opening lecture. Stevenson echoes this position when encouraging people to actively gain proximity instead of loosely talking about issues. Secondly, Stevenson encouraged the audience to deliberately work in changing the incorrect narrative and stigma surrounding a perceived injustice. For instance, he included the example of a current narrative saying that some children are demonized and monstrous. Instead of judging children on an action they might have committed for safety measures, people should understand the situation that may have spurred immoral behavior. Ewington’s unit 7 discussion of those suffering in Stalinist Russia signals how impactful a false narrative can be. Third, the integral role of hope in creating change was emphasized. Without hope, no one will be motivated to change the current unjust societal structure because it is viewed as impossible. Fourth, Stevenson urges us to step outside our comfort zone. As a result of taking uncomfortable risks, a great reward could result much more significant than the cost. Finally, Stevenson made me realize that we are all broken in one way or another. Thus, we should acknowledge this about ourselves and use it to create empathy for others who might be more broken than you.

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