Familiarity breeds contempt. I had not heard this phrase in a long time until talking to the sponsor of my sorority – Ann Smith. She used it in the context of preventing sorority members from becoming segregated within their own society.
It is the phrase that hung in the back of my mind as I was reading the article on Wesleyan “returning roots” as a Methodist university. The article was thought provoking, but I felt the points discussed were dangerously irrelevant to an increasingly homogenized society.
It seemed to cultivate a need for regression into the familiar. People today are first hand witnesses of the explosion of technology and interconnectedness; it is because of this I believe that systems of higher education should adapt accordingly.
Why must Wesleyan reestablish its already prominent roots when it has new, interrelated ones growing every day? It would be like cutting a tree in half at the point at which its branches just begin to separate. Will it be stable? Of course – but the beauty will have been removed.
I grew up in a local United Methodist church and remain an active member and volunteer. As expected, I was excited that the Central Texas Conference offices were going to be moving to Wesleyan. Yet, despite this I don’t believe that the students should be imposed upon to “follow in the direction of the university.”
Universities and students should be in a relationship that works persistently toward enabling to think critically, act in compassion, and conduct themselves with a sense of respectful dignity.
The end goal is not to blatantly affiliate oneself with Methodism, Agnosticism, Islam, Christianity or any kind of label – it is to use the knowledge that we have gained to add something positive to the world. Religion is simply a means, or vehicle by which people can become compassionate – though some don’t use it at all, which is not to be diminished or looked down upon.
If we are to truly reconnect to our Methodist roots, let it be in action and not in a credit hour or label. As Saint Francis said, “preach the Gospel often, and when necessary, use words.”
McKenzie L. Brown