Late on the night of Nov. 8, 2016, Donald J. Trump was elected to the presidency of the United States. No matter which side of the political aisle you fall on, it is important to recognize the significance of this moment, not only for the United States but also for global citizens. For this reason, the Editorial Board of The Paladin Newspaper believes it would be remiss not to address the implications of this development for the American people, and more specifically, the Furman community.
At this moment, we are a nation divided. One could also say that we are a university divided, at least in terms of the election. Leading up to the election, chalk graffiti in front of the library declared “Hillary for Prison” one day then was covered up with “Make America Kind Again” and “Nasty Woman” the next. After the election the chalk simply read “Love Trumps Hate.” It would be not only incorrect to deny these divisions, it would be detrimental. To deny our division would be to ignore the fundamental disagreements that exist among us. These disagreements are arguably the root cause of the epidemic of fear and hatred now sweeping the country, and we can’t allow our disagreements to blossom to the same level of mistrust and fear that we see exemplified in hate speech and effigy burning around the nation.
Many people, both within our community gates and in other parts of the country, are afraid, not just for the abstract future, but for their personal well-being and safety in the present. For those who are not afraid, it is important to recognize that others are, and to not invalidate or downplay the feelings, fears or sufferings of others. Instead, seek to understand. For those who are afraid, we hope that you do not let your fear turn into hatred. Instead, fight bigotry and discrimination in your own life, wherever you find it, whether it be in yourself or others. Fight not only for your rights, but for the rights of others.
Though we are divided, it is imperative that we keep the conversation between us alive. The day after the election, campus was silent and the air felt heavy. There were signs of the election: some cried, some smiled and high-fived, many posted on Facebook. As the week went on dialogue was encouraged in some circles as faculty and staff helped students process the week’s events. President Davis even sent out an email reflecting on the importance of respecting differences in light of the divisive campaign rhetoric we’ve heard for the past year. And if your circles of friends are anything like ours, you’ve probably spoken at length about where you think our nation is headed. Some will say that there is nothing left to talk about and that there is no need for a university-wide conversation; we’ve already discussed the election and its implications enough.
We implore the Furman community not to take this view. We must actively resist the invitation to isolate ourselves within our own factions and refuse dialogue with the other. We must continue the conversation, respectfully and with humility. We must adhere to the standards of human decency in our dealings with our political opposites, even if they do not.
In the Oct. 27 issue of The Paladin, we published an article that called for Furman to reconcile its history of slavery with its present values of freedom and equality. In this issue, we echo that call to action, this time to recognize Furman’s values and live them in our daily lives. Like it or not, we all have a shared humanity, though some have denied and continue to deny this. Now is the time to appreciate that common humanity in others, and resist the urge to reserve it only for ourselves or those like us.
Our everyday lives are now the front lines in this battle against hatred, as we have already seen across the nation. It does not matter which side of the political divide you are on; you must maintain vigilance against fear and hatred of the other. As the next generation, we are the future. Let us build that future together, first, and most importantly, by speaking to each other today.