History doesn’t bend on its own

Our faith cannot lie with the imagined resilience of our system of government, but it must reside with our commitment to get involved and speak out. History doesn’t bend on its own. It requires constant, unrelenting, and robust tugging on its stubborn shaft. That duty now rests in our hands. At a time where our politics hits a new nadir every day, the need of a culture of political activism and discussion on our campus has never been more important.

A Tempered Harpoon is a column on American Politics written by the ’18-’19 Editor in Chief, Chris Park (’19). – Ed.

There is a disappointing disinterest in American politics—and politics in general—in our school community despite that a majority of us will matriculate into a college in the United States and be governed by the product of American politics. Of course, when 6,000 miles away from where it is happening, the decisions being made do not seem to directly impact us; a sense of apathy perhaps can be almost natural. The indifference, of course, is compounded by the fact that despite our cares, it seems nothing would change the tiring system that we hear about.

That, at least, has been my assumption. But in the past few weeks, there has been a shift in campus activism as I overheard and engaged in conversations about Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court of the United States. Some conversations yielded perplexed disbelief about how, despite the moving and credible testimony by Dr. Ford, we now have a Justice Kavanaugh. They responded with anger, sadness, and—most of all—frustration. I happen to share this belief.

Others expressed concern about the lack of definitive proofs in this case and debated what the best way is to move forward. There really is no right answer in this case (as I elaborate in this post) but through these conversations, we can collectively learn more about the various emotions associated with this political showdown through discussing our views. If what takes for the frustrating politics that allowed Brett Kavanaugh to be “rammed through” the Senate to the seat on the highest court in the land, I say, so be it. Conversely, if the rise of this new social movement is progressing too fast, you may have a valid reason to believe so.

If you’re frustrated, start your subscription to the Washington Post. Discuss these issues over lunch. Check out a book at the library (might I suggest Amy Goldstein’s Janesville). The Kavanaugh hearings reflected the tip of the iceberg in our broken political system. The one that increasingly sows discord and division among people and forces the national discourse to drift away from the issues that are the cares of millions of people.

The fight for healthcare isn’t over. What comes out of the debate over immigration will profounding impact so many of our friends. Children are being ripped apart from their parents. National deficit is ballooning every year. Protections for sexual abuse victims in colleges are being rolled back. Start paying attention because every day is a renewed chance to discuss the many issues that matter so much. Expat Americans over 18 can get registered and vote! Don’t let this hard-fought right for granted.

It’s not about a progressive view trumping a conservative one, or vice versa. Ours is a tight school community of only 500 students. We probably know half the campus already as a bus buddy, teammate, or lab partner. We can defy the ugly politics suggested by headlines that reek with insults, and instead have real discussions about how we want the future of our world to look. It is only through these informed discussions that we can truly develop a transformative voice that advocates for a better tomorrow.

We live in a troubling time where compelling narratives exploit our worst fears and tempt us to look inward. There is a credible rise in authoritarian politics that suppress free thought. The notion of a free press is routinely questioned around the world. It is irresponsible to wait for the politics of our time to fix itself because nonchalance is no match to the daunting challenges that confronts us. Our faith cannot lie with the supposed resilience of our system of government, but it must reside with our commitment to get involved and speak out.

The arc of history has bent toward justice because of the individuals who saw the urgency for action in their times and pressed for change. History doesn’t bend on its own. It requires constant, unrelenting, and robust tugging on its stubborn shaft. That duty now rests in our hands. At a time where our politics hits a new nadir every day, the need of a culture of political activism and discussion on our campus has never been more important.

– Chris H. Park (’19)

Featured Image: Getty Images/Saul Loeb

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