Marshall McGraw '18
After far-away dogs barked on election night, silence came through in the morning. Between the soft alliance of compassion and pain, whispering to each other in their own peculiar way, we are found living suddenly, slung discordantly from moment to moment. Under a dark and grimy light, beating at the embrace of disappointment, handcuffed and slow-dancing around the page break of days, I had never believed in my youth before I understood my own brutality. We weigh how important it is to hear the other side, and how valiant we would be if we invited opposing opinions to the same table. I wonder how far tolerance will be stretched in the coming days; of course everyone is welcome, all people, but how does this reckon itself with my belief that, just as there exist certain inalienable human dignities, there are also certain unforgivable actions and intolerable hatreds in the world? Am I more rigid, does my cruelty have a wider jurisdiction than I previously thought? Just as much as the enveloped ballot with a paid-for stamp was in invitation, it was also a line drawn.
To burden an already busy phrase: the personal is political, but I notice myself divorcing ideas from the people who are expressing them in order to hear out statements I do not support– it isn’t a total separation, but I engage with the opinion as if it was sweat hovering a few inches above its supporter, instead of believing someone’s humanity could be so clouded. Like characters in some book, each body representational of ideas and hoping for roundness, the actor and the action are now functioning as an inexorable pair, not a singular unity of expression. What happens when someone imposes and disconnects the intersecting spheres of the micro-personal and the macro-societal in the name of tolerance?
Before, we were gentle with each other, and aspired to the world. And what are we doing now? Paying reality our dues with some of us turning out our pockets for the first time; getting ready, sure, but not yet overtaken. Occupied by the truth, it all comes down to how we define moral courage; I believe there is a reason why Psalm 143 begins by asking for aural attention. The alarm bells are ringing, but at least they still can ring.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the impact Leonard Cohen’s death had on me, and my ability to mediate persistent political events. I found that my only way to grieve is to listen. May he rest peacefully but never stop writing; my prayer to him, as it always has been, is “Please, may I have something to look forward to, now more than ever.” Is the world too bloated for earnestness to seep in and be believed?
We are grappling with the things which leave us wordless. To conclude, I simply wanted to say I'm wishing you every available kindness and protection. I'm here on your terms; in affirmation without prescription: you are irrevocably valid, you are enduringly visible, and you are perpetually vibrant. I believe you, I see you, and I hold you exultantly beloved.