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To Discriminate

I will not post this weekend, as I am away. As well, I want to begin writing an article, so my schedule will change next week, but I will be back.

After I wrote my poem yesterday, I thought about what it might mean to live in a different way than I do. I cannot. I do not have those experiences. To discriminate is to see and recognize differences. In a world of extreme ideologies, there are those who simply refuse to see differences as essential to our human condition.

Hannah Arendt wrote about living in pluralism being the ultimate human condition. It is what makes us each a person, separates us in some distinct way from others. It is challenging and unavoidable.

I lived in a small town in Northern Alberta when I was young. We were the only French-speaking family with children in the community. I understand others have suffered more than I ever did. It seems it is only the loud ones with most extreme ideology who act and speak with violence that are seen and heard.

Edmund Burke contended “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good [people] to do nothing.”

Albert Einstein said “Compassionate people are geniuses in the art of living, more necessary to the dignity, security, and joy of humanity than the discoverers of knowledge.”

Thomas Merton pointed us in the direction of mindfulness: “The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another.”

I think compassion is being mindful of the beauty we find in the differences of others and the world. It is speaking up and out when we see things done that are not proper. It is in being mindful and present to the Other that we are most human. I leave you with these thoughts.

To discriminate,

To see the differences in the Other,

It is what makes living worthwhile.

Without seeing differences,

The world is a monotone,

A sea of sameness.

Without seeing differences,

The world is extreme,

A dangerous place.

Without seeing differences,

I do not see the exceptional,

I cannot see an Other’s humanity.



About ivonprefontaine

In keeping with bell hooks and Noam Chomsky, I consider myself a public and dissident intellectual. Part of my work is to move beyond (transcend) institutional dogmas that bind me to defend freedom, raising my voice to be heard on behalf of those who seek equity and justice in all their forms. I completed my PhD in Philosophy of Leadership Studies at Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA. My dissertation and research was how teachers experience becoming teachers and their role as leaders. I focus on leading, communicating, and innovating in organizations. This includes mindfuful servant-leadership, World Cafe events, Appreciative Inquiry, and expressing one's self through creativity. I offer retreats, workshops, and presentations that can be tailored to your organzations specific needs. I published peer reviewed articles about schools as learning organizations, currere as an ethical pursuit, and hope as an essential element of adult eductaion. I published three poems and am currently preparing my poetry to publish as an anthology of poetry. I present on mindful leadership, servant leadership, schools as learning organizations, how teachers experience becoming teachers, assessement, and critical thinking. I facilitate mindfulness, hospitality retreats. and World Cafe Events using Appreciative Inquiry. I am writing and researching about various forms of leadership, how teachers inform and form their identity as a particular teacher, schools as learning organizations, hope and its anticipatory relationship with the future, and hope as an essential element in learning.

32 responses »

  1. It’s the loud and violent/extremists who make others put their bodies on the line to protect the LEGAL rights of others. The alternative is too terrible to imagine. They get attention because they are dangerous to everyone. They are often backed by well known brand name companies and churches. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. All those years in the street, in meetings, in Washington, and we are going backward. It’s disheartening, frustrating and depressing. The rights of women, children and minorities are fluid never stable, never locked in. They can be changed at anytime but any new administration. We can’t ever stop treading water. I’m older. I’m tired. We keep fighting the same battles over and over and now we have that man as president. Because of him people are in danger. The KKK is more active on campuses. Women are being sexually harassed more than ever. African American’s are in more danger. Women’s rights are in extreme danger. All those years of working with NOW for the betterment of everyone and we are here.

    I recently sent some of my photographs to Radcliffe and they accepted them, so they are in the archives. I have sent them photographs before. Photographs of women defending clinics, photographs of conventions and a lot of the things. I’ll send them more things in the future. We need a record of those who stood against the right-wing and powerful, white males, for the rights of women and everyone else. We are the herstory and we refuse to be erased by the status quo. I’ve lectured at universities, taught there as well, trying to get people to see how they are being manipulated and kept down, in EVERY area, including art. It’s all I can do. It’s the best I can do. I may not be able to give millions of dollars to the cause but I’ve given them my time and my life, I can’t do more than that. It’s up to the next generation of women/girls to keep fighting. The rules have changed. The old ways aren’t working. With not my president in office, I’m concerned for women, children, minorities, and the environment. We have worked on/for all of those issues. Trying to get better lives for people. We have worked to get people who respect freedom, elected. We never stop working because the other side keeps changing the rules an throwing things at us. I’m out of the loop now but I won’t let go. I’ll write to help and if there’s something I can do I will. I have to. Or they win and 1984 becomes even more real.

    • We each are responsible for what we can do. I share your concerns for those who cannot stand up to tyranny. Keep writing. Take care.

      • I appreciate your posts very much. Thank you. When people block clinics, put gum or crazy glue into locks, they stop women from getting treated for many illnesses. The other side doesn’t care. The scream at the women, say terrible things to them, try and stop them from getting medical treatment. I don’t understand it. So we make sure women can get in, sometimes walking with them, other times making a path for them, sometimes just being there. The terrible things those people say. Their words are mean and hateful. Women need to see doctors. They aren’t abortion clinics, they are medical treatment facilities. Anyway, we are definitely responsible for what we do.

      • We are. I think the act of terror at the London mosque reminds me how easy it can be to stereotype people.

  2. To have a world where equality reigns we must teach children that the differences between us are to be celebrated and not feared as at present.

    • David, you reminded me of the Dalai Lama’s quote: “If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.”

      It would be wonderful. Hugs back.

    • Yes, a wonderful thought, and yet we are fearful and trust is the only way out of fear. My philosophy says go ahead and trust, death is not the enemy. If we can trust God knowing that even though we might suffer death, our trust will enable some poor soul to seek the philosophy of hope and trust, and love,. then we have made a tiny bit of progress. One soul, who can reveal the worth?

  3. I have been enjoying your posts, and your poem was fine. Her is one of mine. It is in a series I call Conundrums. Your poem made me think of it–not sure exactly why. Thanks for your words and for your sentiments. Tasha

    Between two mirrors
    a single lit candle:
    one flame an infinity,
    Endless repetition,
    mirrors one moment
    as all moments.

  4. 984b gracious scapegoat

    wish could like more than once

  5. This is a good kind of discrimination. Ayaan Hirsi Ali said, The the tolerance of intolerance is cowardice

  6. Thank you! A wonderful poem. I consent in all. Have a nice and blessed week. 😉 Michael

  7. Exactly. Good lord, what would a world without diversity look like? I shudder to think! Great post, Ivon. Being a woman, believe me, I can relate. But you know, I’ve learned so much from being discriminated Against. Aloha.

    • It would be boring and perhaps oppressive. I agree. We do learn from being discriminated against. The least it should teach us is how it feels to be marginalized, creating a pathic sense for others.

  8. We are feeling very anxious in London.Since the Brexit vote people are saying or doing things that they would not have done before.With all the problems with the fire etc it seems so stupid talking about leaving Europe.I think some of my neighbours believe we will get the Empire back… fiunny in a way bit horribly stupid

  9. Great article, great read, I am going to reblog this article for you.


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