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Finding empathy

in Columns/Opinions/Staff Editorials by

This Sunday, the country witnessed yet another instance of mass violence. The shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas left 26 people dead and many more injured. Once again, we saw headlines of including the phrase “one of the most deadly attacks.” News publications increasingly use this line to describe massacres, such as the Las Vegas shooting on October 1 leaving 58 people dead or the October 31st New York City attack that killed eight people.

Around campus, however, this line seems to have lost its gut-punch feeling. Monday morning, for most of us, was just another day on campus. Students, staff, and faculty followed their regular routines. Some community members were unaware of the terrible attack that occurred just 24 hours prior, and few lost breath over it. These attacks have turned the lives of thousands upside down and scarred towns. Yet for us, life keeps going.

Anyone who watches the news will be able to tell you that it will often leave you feeling hopeless or depressed. This has caused many of us to lower our news consumption or compartmentalize the extreme things that we read about. This is dangerous. We cannot let these things become normal.

We cannot let these events paralyze us but we need to recognize the magnitude of what this country, and world, is experiencing. We need to recognize that the 26 people who died on Sunday and the countless victims of other attacks are more than just a CNN notification that pops up on our phones.

We need to find a balance between pretending these events never happened and letting them control our lives. This may look different for everyone. Some people may choose to get more involved with politics. Others may want to get more involved on a personal level and find some way to support the victims. Both of these options are valid responses to the terrible events that we keep seeing.

We know that it is impossible to give each news story the attention it probably deserves. You cannot donate to every fund or spend all day calling your congressman. That isn’t reasonable. What is reasonable is to take a few minutes every day to recognize the impact that these events have had on people and think about what you can to do help.

This college prides itself on being a social justice campus. We hold protests and vigils for many events, yet ignore so many others.

We recognize that, unfortunately, holding a collection or a vigil for every mass death would be impossible. But having a conversation about what happened with a friend at dinner is not. Reading about the stories figuring out what happened humanizing the victims is possible.  

To love and be loved

in Columns/Opinions by

Every fiber of my being wishes that I were not writing this right now. I was planning on publishing a quasi-satirical piece in my column this week about why some people should not vote. Instead, I am now sitting in an Old City coffee shop wondering what the fuck happened and where the fuck to go from here.  

There are so many things I want to say: I want to complain about how the Electoral College is stupid and how the entire political system requires reform; I want to say, “I told you so,” to everyone who voted for Clinton during the primaries when I warned all those around me that her alienation from white working-class folks will prevent her from winning the presidency; I want to tell everyone who voted for our new president-elect to fuck off.

None of that matters now, nor will it help us for the next four years to come. The rhetoric I present in the last paragraph is part of what brought us here in the first place. Whether it be the notion of “purity” that isolates liberals from one another, or our collective refusal to understand the strife of millions of Americans that we have left behind, we have failed to recognize and value the differences between us as Americans.

Back in September, I decided to name my column “The New Blue Pill as a shout out to the blue pill presented to Neo in “The Matrix,” which would have allowed Neo to embrace the blissful ignorance of a makeshift world. I did this to remind myself of the liberal sounding board that I live in and of the fact that I truly do not understand millions of Americans.

Yesterday proved that the silent majority is real—and I doubt it will remain silent under a Trump presidency. I used to worry about the silent majority surfacing into mainstream culture, but now, I realize that we must welcome such a change, as it was their silencing that contributed to our mutual alienation.

As disenfranchised white America re-embeds itself into mainstream discourse, I hope we greet one another with empathy and respect. Yes, Trump and his supporters have said things that are simply unforgivable. I ask you to take care of yourself and your loved ones first, for we must condemn any rhetoric that threatens an individual’s existence based on their identity. Yet we cannot possibly ask others to understand us if we do not attempt to understand them. In order to be loved, we must love first.

There is a lot of work ahead of us in this country, and even though we may not be able to Kumbaya our way out of this this time, we all know that hate and anger will burn out eventually and leave you burned. This election has taken much out of me, but I know our commitments to one another is all that we have. So, just as I did on April 26 and on Nov. 8, I have made my choice: I choose to love.

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