A Word from Mr. Nunan
Venturing into politics, as I shared with our scholars Monday morning, makes me nervous. Talking about the election process and result—is now akin to stepping on the “third rail” of the train tracks. I begin the conversation with three quotes for approaching the “third rail.”
Please know that I welcome your input and feedback. Your freedom both to agree and affirm and also to disagree and debate, is one of the most important rights we enjoy in this country. Let’s do something that seemed so obviously and painfully lacking in the recent presidential election—model real, open dialogue marked by dignity and respect
Grief Shared is Divided; Joy Shared is Multiplied
We have all been affected and impacted by the recent election, in myriad ways and to varying degrees. It is not my place to explain, to rationalize, to celebrate, to mourn, to defend, or to decry the result. It is, however, my responsibility to assist our SJP community in working our way, together, through this unique moment in our nation’s recent history. We must be a school where we ask the hard questions and confront the difficult realities.
Years ago, as I have shared with you, a priest and friend said these words to make sense of a terribly difficult moment: grief shared is divided; joy shared is multiplied. Last Wednesday was a long day for many. Long… and heavy. We could feel it. It was palpable here on campus and, I suspect, in many places of work and in many homes.
The morning after the election, emotions were different… and deeply felt: shock, fear, cheer, disappointment; satisfaction; joy; despair; grief; happiness; hope; relief. What was your experience? Using our St. Joseph the Worker scale, with 5 being a lot and 1 being a little, assess the depth—measure the impact—of your emotions/feelings?
Perhaps we can spend time these days sharing our emotions and feelings, trusting that in our sharing, the negatives might be divided and the positives might be multiplied. Instead of having to rail against each other, maybe we can rely on each other, believing that in our coming together, the despair might be diminished and the hope might be increased. Rather than resorting to the safety of silence and avoidance, as if we were boxers told by the referee to go to our “respective corners,” let’s reach out to each other, “across the aisle” as it were. After all, we do just that every time we pray the “Our Father” together here at SJP.
One the Love that we Share, One our Hope in Despair, One the Cross that we Bear
On Sunday, the meditation hymn at Communion in our parish was “We are Many Parts.” The refrain: one the love that we share, one our hope in despair, one the cross that we bear.
We are one. Often, we forget that. We are so immersed in the competitive culture of “us” and “them” that we forget about our own human kinship. There are matters on which we should take a stand; indeed, as people of faith and virtue, we must. Righteous indignation is called such for a reason. There are absolutes—human dignity, in every sense, being one of them. Yet the climate in which we now live often precludes us from standing together.
Even the dissection of the result, the never-ending quest to break down the data and to break open the stats, points us in the wrong direction. Many look for answers precisely, and ironically, from those experts who, by their own admission, missed the whole thing. Furthermore, the pundits resort to poling, separated intentionally by age, gender, race, sexual preference, economic status, and education level, as if we are merely labels or stereotypes, further marking the dividing lines. So much for unity and reconciliation, for commons bonds and shared dreams.
Despite the constant, clarion calls for coming together, which we hear from both sides of the aisle and which must be heeded if we are to move forward, we seem evermore divided. The desire to disagree with the other has been replaced by a desire to demonize the other. Yes, we must acknowledge the deep divides—particularly those caused by racial, social, political, and economic injustice. These are real. Yet we must not resort to labeling those who hold different views and opinions as stupid and ignorant, or worse, immoral and bad.
Let’s just be aware of that. Let’s give other space and slack… support. Let’s give each other the freedom to be who we are, without having to explain or defend, apologize or accuse. Let’s acknowledge that this is a challenging time, and that we all internalize it differently. It’s not about better or worse, right or wrong; winning or losing; it’s just different. We should be a place where difference is okay, understood, affirmed, even celebrated.
And let’s be mindful that our students—along with our parents and guardians, faculty and staff, and everyone in our SJP Family—are working through these issues and questions, each in her and his own way, experiencing to varying degrees all sorts of feelings and emotions. Let’s make every effort, then, to be open, balanced, considerate, empathetic, professional, and present. Let’s remember that we each carry a Cross, that we all seek Hope, and that we all need Love. As the Sisters remind us, let us go gently.
That All May Be One
Finally, if we can all agree on anything, it is that we are living amidst a challenging, defining, time in our nation’s history, a time as pivotal as it is unpredictable. It is a time when almost everything we see and hear is marked by division. The rhetoric has reached new highs for venom and volatility…and new lows for decorum and decency. The divide has become so polarized that both parties see the positions of the other not as different, but as dangerous.
One’s vote seems a litmus test by which others assess our moral character, measure our personal integrity, and determine our individual worth. In a country of many freedoms, we do not seem capable of embracing the most basic freedom—the freedom to disagree with one another respectfully and reverently, passionately and politely, honestly and humbly.
This is the time, this is the moment, for our CSJ Charism—that all may be one. Not, mind you, that all may be the same. We are different and diverse, thank God! Quite literally, we are all made in God’s image and likeness, and because God is infinite, there are infinite reflections of God’s grace and goodness—reflections that are embodied in each and every one of us. Our difference is not to be tamed or, worse, tolerated; it is to be embraced and affirmed. It is not to be soothed (or smoothed over); it is to be celebrated. We experience, I pray, this profound appreciation of our various creeds and cultures, races and religions, opinions and ideas, viewpoints and perspectives, in our SJP Family.
Every vote counts. Every voice matters. This reflects the CSJ charism. The Sisters understood that we must work and pray, live and love, to fulfill the prayer of Jesus, that all may be one. They never said it was going to be easy. Putting relationship first; serving those who struggle, without distinction; extending gracious hospitality to everyone; creating ever-widening circles of inclusive love—these things are difficult, and messy, and hard, and even uncomfortable. Yet they knew, and still know today—perhaps now more than every—that this is the way.
At the beginning of the year, I suggested that Saint Joseph Prep should be a refuge from and a witness for our broken, divided world. Amidst so much hurt, we should bring healing. I believe this, now more than ever. I am convinced that the way to move forward, for our country and our community, is by embracing our charism—that all may be one.