By Kjersti Kleine, Contributor
It is easy to get political these days. With political rhetoric seeping into our daily conversations, with breaking news updates inundating cell phones and laptops every hour and with social media providing an outlet for everyone to constantly broadcast what is on their minds, it is often challenging to escape political rhetoric and remember what really matters.
According to the non-profit Save the Children, more than half of the refugees that enter the United States are children. Refugee children are escaping war, violence and danger. These children yearn for safety, security and an education — something we value immensely here at Furman University. Hearing political messages and rhetoric is polarizing and motivating, but may feel distant for some. Many of us at Furman go through our daily activities untouched by the policies and executive orders that are earth-shattering for many people.
President Trump’s executive order issued on Jan. 27, 2017 bans those with nonimmigrant and immigrant visas from seven Muslim countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days, bans all refugees from around the world from entering the U.S. for 120 days and bans Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. indefinitely, according to the New York Times. Although the ban is temporarily on hold, it is important for the Furman community to understand that the political ramifications of this order are not distant. They affect our neighbors, our peers, our classmates, our professors, our friends and our futures. These ramifications must not go unrecognized. This was the inspiration for the Students for Solidarity rally held outside of the library last Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017.
Each of us carries our own stories with us wherever we go. Those stories are sometimes never told. The Students for Solidarity rally was an opportunity for students to tell their stories —stories that matter. Stories that reveal courage, strength and a quest for freedom. Stories that humanize politics. Stories that bring political ramifications closer to the heart of Furman. Stories that remind us of what really matters.
Navigating the political atmosphere over the past few months has not been easy. Whether your candidate won the election or not, people across Furman’s campus and across the country have been faced with difficult questions, challenging conversations and confusion. However, at the end of the day, I do believe we have a lot more in common than we often like to recognize. It is time to make a seat for everyone at the table. It is time to listen. It is time to ask questions. It is time to look within ourselves and recognize our own barriers.
It is absolutely crucial that we find ways to relate to one another and hold each other accountable for standing in solidarity with members of the Furman community. After all, we are an institution that prides itself on embracing diverse perspectives, critical thinking and valuable connections. We have to humanize the political rhetoric we are living in and not lose sight of what really matters. In the words of Muhammad Zakaria Shafqut, Furman University class of 2019, “what matters most is ‘we the people.’”