The fullest embrace of open doors occurs when we stop seeing “the other” as dangerous, different or oppositional. With an open-door mind, we instead identify “the other” as “the ally.”
As the ally, it’s irrelevant if that person doesn’t look like us or call the same country home. The ally is celebrated for his or her individuality, but more importantly the ally allows for a transparent sharing of ideas. He or she makes our life better, and we make his or her life better.
Ours — and I use that term to mean every human being — is a shared humanity, one that celebrates achievement, seeks to provide a foundation for each person to meet his or her full potential, welcomes advances that benefit the whole of society and builds bridges that bring disparate groups closer together. When practiced, a shared humanity recognizes that our future also must be shared. History has too often taught us that societies that fall into isolated camps conveniently blame the (perceived) enemy for everything that seems wrong within that society. Retribution becomes a necessity to rectify an injustice that never actually existed.
With a shared future mindset, we refuse the false sense of security that comes with being in one camp or the other. We see as true the idea that all nearly 8 billion of us benefit from encouraging success in everyone.
We in higher education have a pivotal role to play in opening doors. It is incumbent upon us to prepare our students to be educated in their field of interest and to be global citizens. Providing them only an education makes them robotic; they can do a job but have no sense of their participation in the greater world around them. Inform them only about the value of global citizenship and they will struggle to find a firm career, which we know provides a powerful and positive influence on their lives.
We who teach the next generation must acknowledge and support this concept of a shared future, no matter where on the global map we can be found.