Chaplain’s Corner

By the Rev. Scott M. Kershner, University Chaplain

The summer we have just been through has been full of more tragedies and sorrows than anyone cares to count. Many of us are part of identity groups who have found themselves targets of terrible crimes.

In addition, we are in the midst of an election season where polarization and a sense of enmity toward the opposing side are as high as they have ever been.

For a great many Americans, it’s not only that we disagree with the other side, but that we see them as dangerous, un-American, even evil.

Here is a little qualitative study any of us can undertake that will tell you just how far apart we are. If you have a candidate for a president you support, listen to the language the other side uses to describe your candidate. There’s a good chance you will find your candidate described in ways you hardly recognize, that sound to you crazy, paranoid and just plain wrong. The distance between your description of your candidate and the opposing side’s description of the same person is the distance of our estrangement from each other.

It doesn’t have to be this way, of course. There are lots of factors that have brought us to this place, but our work as people dedicated to learning and responsible citizenship is to find connections, seek understanding and affirm that despite any disagreements we may have with our fellow citizens, we are all in this together. The demonization of one side or another distorts this simple fact.

As we begin this year, in this highly charged political season, let us commit ourselves to building human connections across the divides. This, dear reader, is my charge and challenge to you:

Seek out people who disagree with you.

Talk about—gulp—politics.

Listen.

Make understanding your goal.

Look for places of common ground, however small.

Remember: despite our disagreements—they are many and not to be glossed over—what unites us is always bigger than what divides.

Remember: we are each other’s keeper. We are all in this together

Chaplain’s Corner reflects the views of an individual member of the religious field. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the entire university. The content of the Forum page is the responsibility of the editor in chief and the Forum editor

Writer thinks back to high school paper

By Jess Mitchell Managing editor of content

I once wrote an article for my high school newspaper about our marching band, and I think the story backfired.

The article itself was an informational piece about our marching band, what they did and the work and hours they put into performing. I wrote at the end of the piece that people should not just watch the football players but also the band. I titled the article “Who Let the Football Team Onto Our Field?” or something like that, based off a comic I read. I thought it would be a funny way to start. After all, how many people read our high school newspaper?

A few days later, my friend in the marching band told me he was approached by some of our high school football players. They demanded to know who this Jess Mitchell was, but my friend didn’t tell them. After that, I was told that our teacher-adviser for the newspaper received angry emails from people in the community. Then she was called into the principal’s office.

Frankly, that was the most attention our high school newspaper ever received. The article itself wasn’t anything special. The piece was amateur. If I had to do it over again, I would have changed the title to something else.

What was amazing was the feedback it received. Past the article’s humorous title, there was nothing in the piece that suggested the football team was worthless or inferior to the marching band. But the reactions said differently.

The angry emails, the angry football players, the frustrations our teacher-adviser had to wade through, all came from our community. A community that supported so many aspects of our high school. But when something came along that differed from their point of view, they bit back. I know my town has a history of intolerance, but to watch people blow up after something so small was an awakening to me.

After the issue died down, I wondered how many people actually read the article, or if most of them had stopped after the title. I wondered how many people even picked up the paper or had just jumped to conclusions after hearing something second-hand.

The point of journalism isn’t to make people angry, and it isn’t to please others, either. It is to reveal truth. If that truth sparks reactions in readers, I think that’s when it becomes interesting. In writing, in performance, in teaching, in speech, when we reveal truth or a new way to look at something, the reaction to what we present is just as important as the material itself.

As I head into my senior year, I look back on my experiences with writing for newspapers. I’m excited to write for one more year for The Quill and find the truth on campus.

But maybe I should stay away from writing about marching bands.

The editorials of The Quill reflect the views of individual members of the editorial board. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the entire editorial board or of the university. The content of the Forum page is the responsibility of the editor in chief and the Forum editor