16th May 2020
When a fellow human being comes out to say what has been weighing them down for a long time, be it an environmental anomaly or a personal experience, it becomes our job to listen. The reason one human has to listen to another is that that is the basic foundation on which unity is instated in a community, and this unity in turn helps to a create a healthy environment that enables and facilitates growth.
More than two recent events have brought to light that we, as a student body, have failed to listen. No matter who was speaking, we have gone about defending, arguing, posting and fighting, and have ignored that valid actions can only be taken when one excludes third parties, gossip and conflict- and just listens. When any person from the community we call family has something to say, we have to listen.
It’s simple: not listening has consequences. These consequences include distrust, destruction of personal mental health, soiling of friendships and the creation of a toxic environment.
Distrust in these situations includes but is not limited to:
Souring of relations between a person in position of power and the student body: If leaders are not held responsible for their actions, the community loses trust in them. This may lead to a situation in which if another victim wants to speak up, they may be scared, knowing full well that an alleged perpetrator or wrong-doer was not only not punished, but is inversely being promoted in spite of what they did/might have done.
Distrust in community and isolation of a victim: If a victim’s experiences are not heard or dealt with properly/fast enough, they may start to feel as if the community has no regard for them, and may isolate themselves, get extreme anxiety or depression, and in worst cases, become suicidal.
Distrust in a wrong-doer and isolation from community: If legal rights are not violated in an incident, the wrong-doer continues to be a part of the community, and will most likely be excommunicated in terms of social events and conversations. Since the principle of every punishment is rehabilitation, and not revenge, this kind of isolation may have results similar to that of the previous situation, or contradictorily may allow the wrong-doer to continue to feel no remorse or guilt, and continue such activities in the future.
Distrust among members of a community: If no one listens and everyone either ignores such situations or buries them in superficial conversation, the student body becomes vary of each other, which will have adverse effects for everyone in the future.
The topic of mental health, which is caused by the distrust mentioned earlier, is a sensitive one. Keep in mind that as a personal opinion, I believe that if the mental health of someone around us is deteriorating due to environmental factors, the whole community should be held accountable. When a victim’s testimony goes unheard or is only helped by futile shallow comments of support, the victim’s mental health tanks, which is a bad sign for their physical health as well. If such is the case, then the moral and ethical foundation of the whole community can be called into question. Mental health affects student performances in class, clubs, activities and in crowded social gatherings. The result of this deterioration can be a long-lasting psychological scar, and deterioration of the victims’ relationship with their family and friends.
The most important factor, however, is definitely the toxic environment that is created as a result of such incidents. This toxicity extends far beyond a victim and the wrong-doers. This toxicity is demonstrated by members of the community who refuse to partake in the community’s ethical conundrums and those who ignore them. An important question lies ahead:
Would we rather let someone suffer in silence because of our apathy, or will we listen, stand up and take action?
The choice is ours, the choice is now.