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The following essay, The Ethics of Transcendence, by Alexandra Stewart, was awarded First Prize in the 2015 Contest.Alexandra, an International Studies major from Edmond, OK, is a member of the Class of 2015 at University of New Mexico.
To this day I don’t understand how she kept her facade so well, but it was certainly well preserved.
She laughed with us, ate with us, danced with us, and discussed her crush with us.
It isn’t often that those choices have the capacity to permanently impact the lives of the people around us. We may lose, rather than gain, in the face of challenges despite our desire and positive action in the face of atrocity.
But it is precisely those losses and gains that have the ability to teach us about the intricate nature of humanity.
In her essay she discusses a personal encounter with familial sexual violence as a teenager.
This experience changed her perceptions of cross-cultural interactions, leading her to believe that ethics must transcend cultural traditions.We all promised her that we wouldn’t tell a single soul, but I walked out of the lunchroom that afternoon knowing that I was going to break that promise.The cultural aspect and patriarchal structure of her family did not escape me, because I had experienced a similar family system.I felt old, tired, and weak, but I did not know that I would find myself bearing an ugly secret that required all of my strength.Luckily, our strengths become evident in the moments when we need them the most.It was in the midst of thick make-up and flying drumsticks on stage floors that we came together and discussed the very things that made us human.I remember the moment I met her: she was incredibly beautiful and I would say that was of no consequence, but in this situation it stood out because of her evident insecurities.They flow through us and we become the people we need to be.I met one of my best friends during my participation in a school musical.The most we noticed were her quiet spells, which I myself had, and so I chalked up these to her stress and introversion.Nothing ever seemed violent or sinister, and nothing seemed out of place.