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Final Installment in Susan Russell's 'Leaping into Faith' Series

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Susan Russell

Susan Russell, associate professor in the School of Theatre and 2014-15 Penn State laureate, was a speaker at the "All In at Penn State" kickoff event in October 2016. This is the final installment in a six-part series that is part of the University's ongoing focus on diversity and inclusion. 

A culture is like a house.

Houses are constructed out of materials like wood, concrete and steel, and once the construction is completed, the interior of a house is finished with caulk and paint and cabinets and hinges. Once all those foundational elements are in place, you fill the house with furniture, dishes, clothes and pillows and people. If you are designing a house for everyone in your family, you must take everyone into consideration when designing it. If you end up with a house suitable for only a few members of your family, your design was flawed or you used the wrong building material or you made the wrong pillow choices. Everything can be fixed. All you have to do is find out where you went wrong and ask people to help you in the fixing. Everybody wants to come home at the end of the day to a place where they can live in peace and make great meals and have fun with their family, and everybody wants to live in a house where they feel loved. That’s pretty much the human condition.

We all need food, shelter, love and a purpose, but we keep designing houses that are too small or houses that you need to know a certain handshake to get into or houses that have crazy upside-down furniture we can’t figure out. We need to ask each other for help, now more than ever, but before we ask for help we have to make one decision: we are all members of the same family. If you reject that idea in any way, take a breath and realize you are making a decision that someone somewhere does not want the same things you do, or you are making the decision that someone somewhere does not deserve the same things you do. Full essay

Fifth installment: