By Max Lies
The 2016-17 academic year has been one for the books—the death of notable celebrities, one of the most divisive election cycles in history, and internal change have made the year one of the most unique in modern memory. As an outgrowth of that, we’ve seen that turbulence manifest itself on campus: public disagreement, significant questions about college identity, partisan division rife within both the student and faculty bodies. How on earth do we now fulfill our obligations to one another as men and women for others, as outlined in our mission statement? How are we proactively seeking to establish, maintain, and further a “community marked by freedom, mutual respect, and civility?” The answer: we are not.
From one citizen’s point of view, despite the virtue and good found in members of this campus, a significant amount of improvement can be made. Too often we witness shortcomings: apathy, egotism, dishonesty. The community of mutual respect and civility we are called to be a part of is in no way furthered by personal quarrel, backdoor dealings, or hypocrisy. We are too often drawn into what is easy: associating with only those of like mind, not engaging others in all-too-critical dialogue, and assuming one’s point of view is unequivocally true. I have seen Trump supporters, Hillary supporters, and all those in between fall into simple ideological complacency that precludes any sort of intellectual growth. The lack of engagement with one another or the continuance of a personal grudge not only stifles the learning we came to campus to do, but diverts all constructive energies towards something wholly unconstructive. I have seen people too blinded by ego to realize the profound harm they are enacting upon the greater community—we are so caught up with ensuring our personal success that we fail to realize the duty to others we are responsible for as part of a Jesuit community. Simply put, the divisive environment we find ourselves falling into blocks us from our ability “to make the best of [our] own talents, to work together…to serve others, and to seek justice within and beyond the Holy Cross community.”
Additionally, we also find ourselves in Lent, a liturgical part of the Roman Catholic year focused on spiritual renewal and purification. During Lent, we are continually reminded of our own shortcomings to prepare ourselves for the joy of Easter. While that in and of itself may be overly religious, the lesson Lent teaches is relatively universal: to truly experience the joy found in community and in mutual admiration, we must first expose our shortcomings. To breach the divisions so often faced on campus, we must let go of petty and personal quarrel. We are called to discount rumor and slander and focus on the good: despite our many differences, we are all still students united in mutual pursuit of knowledge and justice for the larger world. We are the future of the nation—why let minute and irrelevant jabs prevent us from becoming the best versions of ourselves?
Photo courtesy of simonandschuster.com