Kevin Rabas, chair of the English, modern languages and journalism department at Emporia State, read an original poem entitled “Kansas Awakening” at Laura Kelly’s inauguration, which one simple, overarching message that everyone needed to hear: you belong.
It is no secret that the country is divided.
We saw it with vigor last semester, and it left a lot of us asking ourselves some really difficult questions.
We live in a world today that it is so easy to never have to listen to an opinion that isn’t your own.
In fact, many applaud their ability to never see another person’s side or opinion.
The ‘it doesn’t apply to me, why should I care’ attitude shouldn’t be celebrated, especially with so many people hurting in this world.
Rabas’ poem “Kansas Awakening” encapsulates what we desire for not just the future of Kansas, but the world.
In the first few lines, Rabas describes a scene unique to Kansas and then writes: “and you will know this land is not ours, but we belong to these fields and this simple dirt, and when we shake hands — rough hands, smooth hands — we can feel that heat, blood run through the blue-green chutes of the heart.”
We belong in Kansas. Despite the feelings you may or may not have about the state, it is worth it to make this state a better place: a place where everyone belongs.
If you aren’t happy with the way Kansas is run, you can change it.
If we’ve learned anything from this most recent election, it’s that this is the time for diversity and grass root legislators to pop up and make a change.
It’s time to work across lines and “shake hands --- rough hands, smooth hands.”
It’s time to acknowledge that everyone can belong here. Not just 8th generation Kansans who bleed blue and red at basketball season and purple for the boys of fall.
It’s time to lose the stereotypes and say “welcome: you belong / to this state, like we do.”
It’s time to wake up, Kansas.
The world needs to change for the better of everyone in it, and that includes you.