Dear Organizational Psychology MA Students,
Happy Autumn to you all.
Last month my family and I saw the British singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran in concert live at MetLife Stadium. (I kept calling it the Meadowlands, clearly showing my age, while my younger son kept correcting me.) My mom was with us and she bought a bottle of water at the venue's concession stand before the show. After paying for her water she was handed a capless bottle and was told she could not have the cap because they were not allowed in the stadium. She told the cashier, "I am 75 years old and if I have to walk all the way back to my seat, through all those crowds with no cap on this bottle, it will have all spilled by the time I can sit down before I've even had a sip." The cashier kindly, quietly slipped her the forbidden cap. We asked around about this and were told it was for safety reasons. Too many concertgoers throw full water bottles at the stage or at each other. In effect, keeping the cap on the bottles turns them into dangerous weapons.
I thought, "We have forgotten how to be together."
We spend so much time (me included) with our heads down, buried in our phones, texting and tweeting and reading and emailing and checking and responding, and alerting and being alerted and sending our streaks, and playing our games, and answering to every ping and vibration that I fear we have forgotten how to be together. We have forgotten that there is no reason on earth to throw a full water bottle at anyone or anything in the middle of a concert. We have forgotten how to be in community, in conversation, in negotiation, in understanding of, in dialogue with, in peace - we have just forgotten how to be together.
These have been disturbing weeks in the United States when we have tried to talk with each other about justice, the law, what is right and what is not in the most excruciating contexts, in public and in private. It seems there is outrage and pain on all sides with little hope of creating shared understanding or even points of agreement. We have forgotten how to be together.
The frustration of our divisiveness in this country was interrupted briefly for me Thursday night, when a panel of our program's alumni spoke at the Meet the Firms networking event here at TC. The five alums shared reflections about their time in our program and details about their jobs and careers since graduating. They also offered advice to our current students. Each of them said repeatedly variations of, "Be with each other." They said things like, "Look around at your classmates. This is your network for life. These are your forever friends. Spend time with each other. Make friends here. Seek each other out rather than running home the minute class ends even if you're tired. Take this chance to be together because this is a special and rare time that you won't always have. The Org Psych TC network out there is huge, vibrant and strong and alums will come through for you with tips, opportunities, advice, support, connections, mentoring, fun, and much more. Be with each other."
Their words filled me with hope, reminding me of who we are and what we can do together.
I am going to try to remember.
Warm regards,
Sarah Brazaitis, PhD

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