May 28, 2017

Who We Are

By: Billy Jepma ’18

Staff Writer

As I’m sure the case was for many of us here on campus, I spent the night of Nov. 8 immersed in some degree of anxiety or doubt. This presidential election has been messy and uncomfortable, and quite frankly, a little frightening. Even the build-up to the results was stressful to say the least.

Even more frightening, however, was waking up the next day to hear that our county had elected a figure who stood for the kind of immodesty, discrimination, and fear that I have been taught to abhor. I almost could not believe it, and yet there it was, plastered across news sites and social media, impossible to ignore.

As I read the news coverage of this “historic” election, I felt my heart grow heavy. I heard story after story of people acting and reacting out of fear and anger and it broke my heart, forcing me to consider a question I could not begin to know how to answer:

Is this who we are?

Who you ultimately supported in this election is your prerogative, as it is mine, and I am not here to tell you who was the “right” candidate and who was not. Yet, I find it difficult to see the responses to the outcome of this election as anything less than hurtful.

There have been reports of harassment on public streets, threats sent over social media, ridiculous statements being thrown around like “you can’t be a Christian if you vote for…”, and even though these events may not affect me personally, they are hurtful on a far larger, much more unsettling scale. And I refuse to believe that this is anything close to resembling “normal.”

We do not have to agree on politics, but what I hope to see from our community in the coming months is a willingness to listen and to learn. There are people who have perspectives I have never even considered before–– to assume otherwise is not only naive but hurtful––and while I may never be able to see the world through eyes other than my own, I pray to God that I would never for a second assume someone else’s views are any less important, accurate, and personally defining as my own.

What I ultimately want us to take away from this election, both as a college campus and as the next generation of Americans, is that there should be no opinion so strong that it outweighs our ability to listen.

Jesus spent his time with people who, in His day, were the lowliest and most hated figures in society, and he loved them. He listened to them, He taught them, and He made sure that they each knew how vital they were to the world around them. This is what we as a community should be inspired by.

That doesn’t mean preaching in the streets, or arguing on social media about how “it’s all in God’s hands.” It means genuinely, sincerely, and carefully listening to the voices that are crying out right now. The good, the bad, and everything in between; they need to be heard. That is our calling, as not only a people of faith, but as a people of this country.

So please, help me show the world that we––the next generation––are unlike any other in our capacity to live and love and pray and protect and fight and forgive and understand. That’s what we’re called to.

That is who we are.

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