Text of Ohio University President Robert Glidden's remarks given at the Muslim Support Rally - Friday, 31 May 2002, 5:00 PM, West Portico, of Memorial Auditorium.

  • 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 society.

  • 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 global economy.

  • 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 from it.

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:

  • 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

    21 Europeans

    14 from the Western Hemisphere, both north and south

    8 Africans

    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.

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