The Value of Civil Discourse
By Andrew Hart
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The scenes from earlier this week of rioters breaking into the front doors of the U.S. Capitol was unsettling and a violation of something sacred in our country. Thankfully, Congress promptly demonstrated the resilience of our country’s founding principles and the strength of our union. In this context, I write to remind you of the defining values and commitments of The Oaks.
As you know, the core values of The Oaks Academy include a focus on relationships and an individual’s personhood, a conviction that we are all created in and bear God’s image. We believe that relationships come first and that we grow in the midst of a diversity of thought and opinion. As such, we encourage freedom of expression and an honest dialogue of ideas. Divergent viewpoints do not, in any way, challenge our commitment to the personhood of all people.
Due to this foundation, expressions of opinion that are discriminatory in nature, violate the personhood of an individual, or are intended to cause harm do not have a place at The Oaks. It is The Oaks’ position that we should disagree agreeably and not allow disagreement to fuel relational disunity, just as I discussed in early fall on an all school call after the death of Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Ginsburg and her politically conservative friend and coworker, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, shared a “best buddies” friendship despite their opposing viewpoints. As I mentioned on the call, for all of us associated with The Oaks, the Ginsburg-Scalia relationship is worth studying and emulating.
As you may know, I worked on Capitol Hill for several years early in my career as a legislative aide. During this time, I regularly watched Republicans and Democrats engage in spirited, dignified and always respectful debate. It was a civic leadership lesson that influenced me far more than a political science degree. When we take our eighth graders to Washington, DC, there’s always a reverent hush when we walk through the U.S. Capitol. We share a similar reverence for the values I’ve described above.
I hope the experience your student enjoys each day, in each and every space of our buildings, is one that honors the dignity of others, the diversity of opinion and places relationships first.
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