Dear Pace community,
After the violent and racist events in Charlottesville on Saturday, August 12, and political leaders’ support of white nationalists and Neo-Nazi’s, many of us are asking, “Now what?” Particularly, “Now what should I do?”
David Brooks, an op-ed columnist, wrote in the New York Times last week about modesty as a response to fanaticism: “Modesty means having the courage to rest in anxiety and not try to quickly escape it. Modesty means being tough enough to endure the pain of uncertainty and coming to appreciate that pain. Uncertainty and anxiety throw you off the smug island of certainty and force you into the free waters of creativity and learning.”
In the cartoons my kids watch, the dogs or the princesses are often “saving the day” with a few words or actions. It’s a good island to be on. But, how can we be comfortable with hard questions? Can we dig deeper into uncomfortable issues, and hopefully, as we move forward, not “save the day” per se, but find some more effective and intellectually rigorous ways to combat racism, xenophobia, and anti-Semitism? What questions can we ask about systemic injustices, and how can we dig deeper into the purposes and effectiveness of rallies and protests?
Last week we gathered together – staff, students and community members – in the Pace Center to reflect. In a discussion, facilitated by Pastor Karen Hernandez-Granzen, our 2017 Community Partner-in-Residence, we practiced “stringing the beads,” each taking a turn to share, or not, how we are feeling or what is on our minds at this time. Many of us expressed disappointment that we didn’t have all the answers. While many of the community partners seated with us were uplifted that we were asking tough questions and that they were a part of the conversation.
Service can be a way to explore issues, build relationships and learn about ourselves and our role in communities. In the aftermath of Charlottesville and political leaders’ response, there is value in continuing to ask “Now what?” On campus this fall we hope you will ask yourself a series of questions suggested by Tamia Mitchell, a service learning scholar: Who am I? Why am I here? What can I do to affect change on these issues? We encourage you to explore your responses critically and with curiosity.
Kimberly de los Santos
John C. Bogle '51 and Burton G. Malkiel *64 Executive Director
[Now what?]: Visit pace.princeton.edu/resources/now-what for helpful resources and information, upcoming workshops and programs, and ways to stay connected.