Campus Event Commentary Quillen’s Speech by Skylar McVicar

During President Quillen’s speech on 9/3/19 about humanity and storytelling, I was encouraged to challenge my traditional view of history and how the story of history can influence my daily life as a person trying to be empathetic and sympathetic. The past I have always known was pieced together by the limited artifacts historians have available, thus this familiar history may be completely wrong. Quillen encouraged us as global citizens to question our single story of history and try to see the bigger picture. Much like the infinite stories involved in creating history, individuals have many layers and complexities. Once we have accepted that our backgrounds influence our own perception of life, and that this perceived reality is different than everyone else’s reality, we should be more interested in hearing other’s stories. After listening to multiple narratives, we should realize that there is a commonality that unites us as humans: our humanity. My definition of humanity is the ability to sympathize with others and look past our differences to find our similarities. While Quillen addresses the power that storytelling and active listening has in uniting us as humans, she neglects the fact that merely listening is not going to end the wars, destruction, and inequality that seem to be part of human nature. For years, humans have had opportunities for meaningful connection but have refused to accept one another’s common humanity. Quillen’s lecture was incredibly thought-provoking and idealistic with the possibility to affect change if enough people embrace her philosophy.

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