Support: weexist.co/

The internet is an interesting place. It allows people to connect in ways that never were possible before. There are times when I discover information on the internet that makes me truly stop and think - what would I have done to discover this information before. What would the world be like if information could not be shared over miles or nations in seconds.

I went to high school at New Trier. It is a place and community that shaped who I am today. The people I knew - the people I knew of - the people I was in class with - the people on my sports teams. This community while I was never fully integrated in - still shaped who I am today and in part how I view the world in which I live. The community which I do not keep in constant contact with is still connected to me - through technology such as Facebook.

I currently teach social studies in middle school and our current topic is genocide - we are investigating the oppression and extermination of groups of people for reasons that are difficult to fathom but important to learn. Important to learn so my students can learn what is possible in human history - and hopefully empower them to realize as citizens we can work to prevent future discrimination, tragedies and injustices.

I often explain to my students that when investigating and learning of the 8 stages of genocide the most important stage where prevention can occur is stage 3: dehumanization. The first two stages classification and symbolization are not evil or wrong if the people have a voice and the freedom to say in who they are. If we provided the freedom and liberty to choose our own symbols and create our own life these are not stages of inequality. But when these classifications or symbols are used to dehumanize and to discriminate it is important the citizens think independently and critically and decide what they should do. I believe that discrimination can be prevented if citizens stand to support the freedom and liberty for all.

I want to help students learn how to think critically and independently -  I want students to form their own opinions and their own conclusions. I work to teach them how to read - how to research - how to consume information - and I push them to think about what they are consuming from their own point of view. I do not believe it is my place to dictate what they should believe in - or what they think. Instead I try to provide thought provoking questions to help them discover what they believe.

In my own life this is how I try to be live and think myself - I want to consume information but critically and independently think and form my own conclusions. And today there is more information than any other point in history. We are able to learn more today, we are able to consume more today - but we also must sift through more bullshit than every before because anyone is able to create their own information - or misinformation; and at times critical information may become hidden or obstructed.

I discovered a website http://weexist.co/ - and I learned it is the work of a high school friend of mine. Lauren Lubin's site http://weexist.co/ is an amazing site. I have debated and questioned how I could support Lauren and the site and cause explained at http://weexist.co/.

I have reflected on how I came to know Lauren - in high school she was the dominant female basketball player a few years younger than me. She was close with some of my teammates and I knew her on a friendly "hey, whats up" level. It was not until she was attending the University of Colorado that we were able to train together a few times where we became friends. We often would work on our basketball games - playing pick up, working on basketball moves - that I got to know Lauren better.

I was trying to calculate the last time I talked to her. It was before her trip to Costa Rica - which means years have passed. I remember playing against her brother after she had been in Costa Rica for a while and he gave me an update.

But time has passed and the communication between us was lost. And while I watched her interview video here http://vimeo.com/54882939 it was surreal hearing her experiences and her thinking. I know her - I am friends with her - I shot hundreds of jump shots with Lauren - yet hearing Lauren convey her story and realization was amazing. Lauren's bravery and courage just made me think - wow - I just believe it is important to recognize that Lauren has an important message. And the information Lauren and the site weexist.co provides is important to consume.

And I support Lauren - and I want people to visit http://weexist.co/ - and I want Lauren to continue to give strength and a voice to as many people as possible - and if there is anything I can do I want to help.

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