By Luke VanOverbeke – [email protected]

What happened on the Link two weeks ago undoubtedly shattered any notion of the 2016 election as a distant reality. It isn’t however the incident itself that concerned me most, but the nature of the conversation that took place and continues to take place afterwards.

The fact that students here—I’m thinking about primarily social media here—were viciously attacked and belittled for expressing their take on the situation and related issues really challenges our campuses’ image as a place of genuine listening, critical thinking and inclusiveness.

There is a reason controversial issues are called just that, controversial. Popular opinion does not make a controversial issue less controversial and does not encompass the ultimate truth.

As I write this, I specifically think of the article written in last week’s issue by Madison Morris. I personally remember reading her comments on Facebook and thought her insight to be fair and considerate towards both sides of the aisle. However, during the course of the conversation she was consistently villainized by those who, I don’t believe, had any intention of allowing a genuine discussion. The fact that she was then called “racist, xenophobic, ignorant, stupid and privileged” did not sit well with me, and thus inspired this letter.

Truth is not necessarily one-sided. This is imperative to recognize. If we don’t recognize and accept that there may be more to the truth than is outside ourselves and our experiences, then there is no way we can ever truly listen to one another.

This does not mean that we cannot have our own personal judgments and convictions—life is meaningless if we don’t stand for something—but let’s recognize that not everyone thinks about an issue in exactly the same way and never will. This is a strength, not a weakness. The ultimate goal should not be to create a cookie-cutter way of thinking, but to create a society where all our diverse ways of thinking can be brought together in truth. Ironically the only way to get to any certain truth is through multiple avenues, not just one.

The reality is that what we bring to the table is a product of our personally crafted background. Fight for what you truly think is right, but ultimately know that your experiences are not everyone else’s experiences, nor should it have to be that way.

This is hard to accept as a human being who to some degree feels passionate about their own experience and what they’ve learned along the way.

It’s also hard to accept that sometimes no matter how much you try to convert others, they may not be able to understand your own passions, your own feelings, your own being. Keep trying anyway, but be kind and respectful. You’ll get nowhere with insults and injury. Guaranteed.

With spring right around the corner, perhaps we can begin to replant seeds of healing and community that were dug up in this election.

This is the opinion of Luke VanOverbeke, SJU junior