Now, I said that I will also try to appeal to your sense of reasoning about
the future of the world as the globe gets smaller, so if I may, let me turn
from ideals to a set of realities that we in our affluent, comfortable
culture recognize all too seldom if at all. The following data came to me
just yesterday in an e-mail message. I do not know the source of this
information--that is one of the problems of our Internet culture--but I
have no reason to disbelieve any of these numbers. Here are some
interesting statistics on the demographics of the world:
We are here tonight in witness to our University commitment to
civility, to diversity, to respectfor others. We continue to state these
values, but unfortunately not everyone is listening. Thanks for being
here tonight, because I know you are listening!
We do not espouse these values just because they sound good and are
"politically correct." We espouse them because we know that if
everyone respects all others, if everyone understands civility and
behaves accordingly, and if everyone appreciates the diversity of our
community and our society, this will be a better world!
I am not an expert on the world's religions, but the understanding that
I do have leads me to believe that these values are fundamental to all
of the world's peoples, whether their practice of faith be Christian,
Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, or any other.
In speaking to you this evening, I want to appeal both to your sense of
community and decency, and to your logic and reasoning about the
future of our planet as we become more and more a truly global
You see, our becoming a truly global society means not only that we
have access to the world's markets, but also to the world's concerns.
We must be cognizant not only of the opportunities presented by a
global economy, but also of the challenges and responsibilities of a
First, a few comments about our values. Some of you have heard me
say these things many times before, but I suppose some things cannot
be reiterated too often.
I am speaking about what I consider to be core values that we hold
dear at Ohio University, and the first of these is respect. Respect
simply means treating others as you would like to be treated. It often
means giving others the benefit of the doubt before coming to
judgments about them. But universal respect can be a more difficult
concept than it seems because most of us acquire biases and
stereotypes as we grow up. We must constantly strive to set aside our
biases and discover how refreshing it can be to view all others with
the same respect we'd like them to show us.
Second, at Ohio University, we value diversity. We learn from the
differences among us: differences in national origin or ethnic
background, differences in the color of our skin, or in gender or
sexual preference or religion. I've said many times that in our
learning community we do not just tolerate the differences among us;
we celebrate those differences because we know that in our common
quest to be better citizens and better people, we can learn valuable
lessons from one another. Tonight is an opportunity to learn about
another religion and another culture. I am pleased that you are here to
take advantage of the opportunity.
The third value that I will mention ranks on the same order as respect
and diversity--it is civility. Civility is a critical characteristic of a
learning community because it suggests the ability to disagree
agreeably...to disagree agreeably! We are a community of ideas, and
as an institution that welcomes diversity we celebrate different
viewpoints and approaches. So it is only natural that we will not all
agree all the time. We learn by listening to and considering ideas or
beliefs that are different from ours, and by stating our own beliefs
responsibly and with respect. Not much learning takes place if
everyone has exactly the same ideas and the same viewpoints. Our
learning community is an environment in which we enjoy different
people and different ideas, we learn to appreciate those differences by
being respectful, and we discuss our differences openly and eagerly
without embarrassing or harassing others. We call that being civil!
Respect, Diversity, Civility - if we practice what we know in our
hearts is right, those values will be a big part of what sets Ohio
University apart from most universities and most communities. We
ask everyone to contribute to our university culture as well as learn
If we could shrink the earth's population to a village of precisely 100
people, with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, it
would look something like the following:
There would be:
57 Asians among the 100
14 from the Western Hemisphere, both north and south
52 would be female, 48 would be male
Only 30 of the 100 would be white; 70 would be non-white
Only 30 would be Christian; 70 would be non-Christian
89 would be heterosexual, 11 would be homosexual
80 of the 100 would live in substandard housing; 70 would be unable
to read; 50 would suffer from malnutrition; only 1 would have a
college education; and only 1 would own a computer.
When one considers our world from such a compressed
perspective, the need for acceptance and understanding becomes
glaringly apparent. The need for respect and civility and an
appreciation for diversity is also glaringly apparent! That is why
we are here together tonight.
Let us show our Muslim friends that we do care
about them, that we do appreciate their contribution to our university
community, that we respect their religion and culture, and that we value
them as people and as friends, working together to make this a better world.