March 3, 2014

Revolt? Reform? Rethink?

It’s always moving whenever I experience something as invigorating as Posse Plus Retreats. This is my second one, yet I learned so much. This year’s topic was on social movements in the past, present, and what will come of the future. At first, I thought that this retreat might not be as good as last year’s because the topic did not seem like it would bring out much new insight. I was wrong. I was wrong not only because the topic had many layers beyond my own understanding of it, but mainly because I underestimated how much of an impact the participants of the retreat would have on the conversations we had. It’s true what they say…ignorance is bliss.

Activities after activities, we chipped away at what social movements were in the past, what they look like and mean today and whether they are still important. The effectiveness of past social movements was undeniable, yet when looking at our present day society, it seemed like myriad people had differing opinions about what social movements are like now and how effective they are.

Take Facebook for example, how we are constantly bombarded with news and images of atrocities and injustices around the world, yet all we do is hit a “like” button. Does that drive a social movement to pursue the change we seek? It’s almost as if we have become desensitized by all that we see, like watching commercial after commercial without really seeing the message anymore. Most initiatives that are taken seem passive.

On the contrary, one may argue that social media is an essential driving force for social movement in the technological age we live in. It allows for someone in the the U.S. to hear about atrocities in foreign countries, especially in developing countries where what we perceive to be injustices may go unnoticed. I guess that ways in creating social movements change with society.

This retreat was special in many intangible ways. I certainly appreciate the new connections I’ve made. Though the activities we did were great, I took more away from talking to peers during the late nights and early mornings. It’s a great feeling to debate with someone and be proven wrong. Sometimes it hurts, but when you realize the flaws in your argument and how influential the differing perspective is, you begin to appreciate the interaction.

Controversial topics like gay marriage strike a very sensitive cord within me. My religious views provide me with a critical lens to judge the matter in a somewhat conservative matter. However, the thought of an institution run by people like us, human beings, denying another human a right seems preposterous. Who are we to take away another person’s right? Who has given us the power to subdue others? It’s not right, I understand, but there is a constant duality duel on topics such as this within me, and it’s hard to choose which side to believe. This is why hearing others talk about such issues allows me to critically examine my own beliefs and judgments and reevaluate them.

A friend years ago once said to me ,”Kofi, you have to invest in in people”. As profound and simple as it sounded when I first heard it, I didn’t understand what he truly meant. Should I just go talk to as many people as I wanted, or what? Now that I reflect on what he said, it seems like a layer of what he actually meant has been removed. There’s more to what he said than I understand now, but I see now a part of what he meant. Each person is an opportunity in a tangible form. Like money, people come and go; like money, you have to work hard to earn the trust, loyalty, and respect of the people you come across. Sometimes, your investment doesn’t pay off, but those that do will make you rich.

The new connections I made at this retreat are up to me to uphold and maintain, and there are so many. Being an introverted person, I know it will at times be tempting to leave some of these people out of my life, but if I commit….if I invest, then I will greatly benefit in many ways. I just hope that I can commit to his words.

Now that I am back at Lafayette, back on campus, things feel a little different. It feels like I have gone from experiencing something great to coming back to a place where everything feels the same, a place where nothing inspiring happens. But I know that the people that I spent this weekend with are here on this campus too, and if I can create the kind of experience I have had with them, then why can’t I do the same with the rest of the people here? That’s the greatest challenge and I hope to come out victorious.

Until next time.

Students stand together for a presentation while other students watch

Congrats to NY Senior Posse ’14

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