Miracle Adebanjo, contributor
“GO FROM EXCHANGING GLANCES TO EXCHANGING SMILES. SMILING MAKES YOU HAPPIER TOO.”
As students walk in the halls heading to class, faces pass and we look down at the ground to avoid any interaction. Why is that? Why do we choose to stare at the ground as opposed to stare at one of the finest pieces of craftsmanship in the universe: the human face? Just last semester I “formally” met my dear friend, Lay Lay Zan. I say “formally” because in a school with under 3500 students between the Day program, AU program and graduate programs, you meet and see a lot of the same faces throughout the Riverside campus. At Augsburg, you may be familiar with someone, but not have ever truly met them.
Often, Lay Lay and I would pass one another in the halls and exchange a quick glance, but we had never had an actual conversation or even smiled at each other. Sometimes, I was guilty of avoiding her gaze and staring at the ground or conveniently pulling out my smartphone, but something in my head clicked when I realized that doing such actions felt wrong. This world does not have enough public Love.
At this realization, I took matters into my own hands. Lay Lay and I had mutual friends and we would often be in the same spaces, so I figured I might as well get to know my neighbor. As this young lady and I continued to pass each other in the traffic of the hallways, I would intentionally seek eye contact and smile. It took a while before she reciprocated the act, but when she did it gave me the confidence and motivation to do the same with others. Eventually, we began sitting together, eating together and reading together. Now, since our first one-to-one, I have learned so much about the Act Six scholar and Karen National Soccer Team player. She and I share similar values, and we both refuse to sit still when facing injustice.
As Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King said, “I have decided to stick with Love. Hate is too great a burden to bear ” I too believe we must stick with Love. We are called to Love our neighbor; to Love, “the other.” To stick with Love does not mean to simply stick to romance. Love is more than just a verb, It is a noun. Love comes in many formats. “I Love you” can be said in thousands of languages,or simply saying “drive safe.” Sticking with Love means to share a smile with a stranger, or share your time with a friend.
I have a proposal–an initiative to bring about more public Love in the Augsburg community. We as students, have a huge role to play in this as Auggies. We need more public Love. We need more authenticity and more compassion towards one another. Such a feat can only be accomplished by looking inward and vowing to be the change we want to see in the world. Then can we bring forth our talents to serve the community. After all, the biggest question in life is not “what are we doing for ourselves?”, but instead “what are we doing for others”.