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Do Justice. Love Mercy. Walk Boldly. 

The week of November 8-14 was a microcosm of the unrest roiling our society and its particular expressions on our college campuses and in the cities of Paris and Beirut.  As a university-based divinity school, part of our mission is to provide a moral voice to how we here at Vanderbilt respond to racism, sexual violence, classism, sexism, transphobia and transgender discrimination, terrorism, religious hatred and myriad ways we fail to live into our humanity, at Vanderbilt and in the world, with deep respect for others.  

One way is by using listening circles when hard issues arise in the VDS community—we learn how to speak the truth as we know it and to listen hard to what each other is saying.  Far from talk being cheap, we realize that as much as words can be violent and spark wars; they can also bring peace and foster compassion for others and our planet. Helping others to learn how to speak in truth rather than stereotypes and bigotry and listen with care and actually hear what we are saying to one another are skills we take far beyond the walls of VDS because not only do we listen and hear, we try to craft random acts of kindness and powerful movements for justice. 

In short, we seek to be agents of social justice who respect the sometimes tough demands of academic freedom that is a hallmark of a university engaged in restless questioning while we also refuse to condone the isms that tear at the fabric of a vibrant society, the world community, and the university we call home.  As the sign carried by a student at the University of Missouri said at one of the many forums occurring on their campus this week: We still have work to do.

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