Living Without Contradictions

Angelica Rodriguez
Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of my favorite classes has become Sociology. The study of human behaviors, culture, decisions, and the motives behind them fascinates me greatly, so much so that I don’t even make a complaint about having to read the textbook for class. However, I do have a complaint about something said in the textbook.

Reading it last week, I came across a fellow named Robin Williams, Jr. – not the actor, of course, but the sociologist. Williams was credited with compiling a list in 1970 of the Ten Central Values to Our Lives. Many of them are no different from our current values today- hard work, progress, freedom, and democracy- but I call your attention today to the first and last items on this list. They are, respectively, “equal opportunity” and “racism/ group superiority.”

Now read further and one will come across a short paragraph addressing the unfortunate clash of values, simply concluding with the phrase, “We must learn to live with the contradictions.” I ask you now- what’s wrong with this message?

It’s not exactly telling us to do nothing, but very close to it. Granted this list was created 39 years ago, but the writing that accompanies it is not exactly as old, and in this age of supposed tolerance and appreciation for other groups, there is still much work to be donet. As a Puerto Rican female, I think being able to find solutions for stopping the continuing discrimination against minority groups is a very important part of developing society. Simply learning to “deal with” the inequalities in our society is unnecessary now when we have so many resources to allow change. After all, we are one of the world’s highest-income nations with plenty of influence and “freedom”; why should anyone in this country have to live with stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination?

A good place to start this would be to pass an Equal Rights Amendment ensuring that everyone regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, and creed be guaranteed the same rights and opportunities. This would not be enough, however. There are social concerns as well- you can pass all the laws you want, but when people’s minds are completely closed to the idea of change, what else can you do? Try your hardest to open them. Talk to other people, ask them how they live (if they are open to sharing) or join a club you wouldn’t normally be attracted to. Open up your own mind little by little and maybe your friends will follow suit. After all, it’s college; this is the best place to begin to broaden your horizons. Maybe then Williams’ findings will be irrelevant after all.