It is no question that our nation is deeply divided. We have become our labels, defined by if we are team blue or team red.
What was once a problem reserved for debate nights and heated Thanksgiving arguments has become a never-ending fury of malicious Facebook comments and stereotypical, offensive labels.
The halls of Canisius have fallen victim to the political divide, and amidst the student body is a palpable separation between the political parties. Remembrance of black baby dolls and torn down “Black Lives Matter” posters and chants of “build that wall” echoing down to protesters in the Bart Mitchell Quad build to the sentiments we have of our last semester here.
As we return from our winter breaks, hopefully renewed and refreshed, we must start to think about how we will choose to act in the coming months. Although there is little possibility that our campus community will be as divided as they were the last few weeks of last semester, it is no doubt that there are still many unsettled issues within our campus. Between a prominent racial divide, and an underlying religious divide continuing to separate the college with it’s pro-life and pro-LGBTQ students, we can’t mistake the quiet excitement of a new semester for the dissolution of these issues. The question now is, will we continue to let our anger and judgment divide us or will we fight for peace and unity?
Surprisingly, we here at The Griffin will not ask you to unify. In fact, we won’t even ask you to stop being divided. The world is too complex for one blanket buzzword to heal its wounds. If you are not in a place where you can accept the actions of the “other party” you are allowed to be angry and unsettled and heal. Forcing collaboration or avoiding contention for another person’s benefit is not a recipe for success. Sometimes, isolation is a necessary step to continue on and progress.
However, if you feel that you are ready to unify, it is important to consider this: unity does not mean staying silent about what bothers us and unity doesn’t mean blindly accepting circumstances without opposition. Unity is not just the opposite of division or the promise of inclusion, but instead means that you are actively choosing every day to accept your differences and feel love and respect for the people who disagree with you. It requires a true civil discourse — beyond just biting your tongue when conflicts arise in conversations and refraining from calling anyone who challenges your beliefs a “libtard” or “racist.”
Accomplishing unity requires more than speaking of it at an inauguration speech or reading about it in this article. If unity was an easy thing to accomplish, than we would have long ago accomplished it.
Despite students and administration attempting to unify our campus through heart-shaped bulletin board messages and enlightening lecture series’, it still seems that our greatest bond is our mutual hatred for Niagara University.
Moving forward, we must respect that whether we want to unify, or stay in separated solidarity, we cannot turn against people for not being entirely on our side. There will be some people who agree with you politically that need unity to better their souls and relieve their loneliness or anxiety. There will be other people who disagree with you that are as vehemently anti-unity that you are, leaving you with a fierce line in-between you.
Instead of waging political warfare on one another, let’s respect the stances that everyone has taken and try to understand what got them there. Even more important than a concept of unity is education and understanding. Without the acknowledgment that people have the right to feel and think the way that they do, we cannot get anywhere.
At some point we are going to need to acknowledge that underneath our socially constructed beliefs and personal moral compasses’, we are all the same human. Bones, flesh and Canisius pride define us all. On those merits, we are all deserving of love.