“Our best college students are very good at being critical. In fact being smart, for many, means being critical. Having strong critical skills shows that you will not be easily fooled. It is a sign of sophistication, especially when coupled with an acknowledgment of one’s own “privilege….Of course critical reflection is fundamental to teaching and scholarship, but fetishizing disbelief as a sign of intelligence has contributed to depleting our cultural resources.” (Source: Young Minds in Critical Condition by Michael S. Roth)
I recently attended a meeting for work and during the closing remarks a piece of this quote was included in regards to some of the harsh criticism that the ALS challenges have endured. And honestly, I was one of those naysayers. I viewed the challenges as an attempt to get a bunch of individuals to foolishly dump buckets of water over their heads while someone sat back and watched the whole debacle. Then, I was challenged. But not to do the ALS but the ice bucket hack challenge that beckoned me to dump water over my head to help end racism and in response to the events unfolding in Fergusson, Missouri.
Was I to stand perched in my disbelief, my criticism? Did it matter if individuals were appearing foolish for a good cause? Who cares if a gimmick was used in order to get people involved and gain more exposure for a cause? Now here I was being challenged.
In the end, it mattered more that I participated rather than remain perched on my soap box. So instead of dumping water over my head, I had a friend follow me to route 30 in Vermont and record me submerging myself into a body of water. As I sat in my seat listening to the closing remarks and thinking about this quote that was shared, it was a reminder and also an opportunity for me to call myself out for all of the criticism I expressed about the ALS challenge and many other things. My disbelief or criticism had to be re-visited and actually suspended for many things, especially.
*Also featured on Green Mountain Mornings on 100.3/1490 WKVT “Ponder This“*