For many, the start of a new year is a symbolic chance to begin with a “clean slate.” We aspire to be more diligent in our schoolwork, try to improve our quality of life and resolve to improve the lives of others. It’s an opportunity to forget about previous transgressions in an attempt to look at the world with a little bit more hope for the future.
Unfortunately, we return to campus this year in the aftermath of a worldwide tragedy. The attack on the Charlie Hebdo headquarters in Paris is at once heartbreaking, frightening and has the potential to shatter those hopes for the new year before they can even get off the ground.
As a school and a nation, we can react to this attack, and those like it, in a variety of ways.
We can dwell on the attacks themselves and incite a level of hatred within ourselves that allows us to meet violence with more violence.
We can ignore the attack, shut ourselves off from the hate that exists in the world and in our nation. We can observe these events with a thick-skinned indifference that allows us to maintain our own conscience, without sacrificing our comfort.
These two options, though sometimes the easiest to choose, don’t reflect what we, as University of Dayton students, should pursue.
A third option requires not only that we acknowledge that prolific hatred exists, but also that we meet it, not with more hatred and violence, but with kindness, decency and clarity of thought.
The choices we have in our response to tragedy shouldn’t be apathy or assent, but discourse and, when necessary, action that shines a light through ignorance and hatred to show the truth.
We should hold ourselves to a standard that allows us to look back on our time at the University of Dayton, not with nervous acknowledgment, but with the pride that comes with being a part of something larger, meaningful and permanent.