We are only a few days from the 2020 presidential election. The usual ramp-up to November has been intensified this year by the uncertainly of a global pandemic, a public health challenge that has remade our world in a matter of months. It also comes at a time when our country is thinking hard about its history and how to reckon with racism and social injustice. While every election is weighty and momentous, this one is especially so for these reasons, and more.
I am proud of how our college community works together through difficulties, how we celebrate together in moments of triumph, and how we treat each other with respect and grace when we disagree. This always serves us well, and it will do so in the weeks to come.
For some of you, this will be the first election in which you are eligible to vote. What a memorable day November 3 will be for you! Others of us have voted for decades and next Tuesday will be no less important. Each of us goes to the polls with a commitment to the future and with a steady belief that the messiness of democracy is worth it. At the very heart of being an American is unwavering optimism that, as Harry Emerson Fosdick once remarked, “… there are extraordinary possibilities in ordinary people.”
I urge you, if you are eligible and registered, to please vote. It is one small way we participate in self-governance, and one huge expression of gratitude for the women and men who have sacrificed their lives over the centuries to ensure we enjoy this freedom.
I urge you also to be kind to one another, to treat each other on Wednesday, November 4 the way you do today. As Lincoln stated in his second inaugural address: “with malice toward none; with charity for all.”
Inevitably, some will be more enthusiastic and hopeful about the elections’ results than others. But whether on Wednesday we celebrate or whether we are disappointed, we remain family and we need each other. Every day, this community embodies an array of ideas of how to build the future, of how to achieve “a more perfect union;” nevertheless, we are joined together by a fundamental belief that our lives are better, fuller, and richer, when we live them together, and when we live them for each other.
With Panther (and American!) pride,
David L. Johns, Ph.D.