Dear students, faculty, staff and community members,
My name is Catherine Nolte, and I am a senior public relations major here at John Brown University. This year, I have the privilege of serving you as the executive editor of The Threefold Advocate.
If you were to tell me four years ago that I would be finishing undergrad in the midst of a pandemic, I wouldn’t have believed you. I don’t think any of us could have seen this year coming. Sometimes, when I look around at my masked classmates and professors, it feels downright surreal.
Not only must we contend with the threat of a virus, but we have seen pure and unrelenting hatred that seems to have no end.
Black men and women have been murdered by police officers, the very people sworn to protect their right to life and liberty. Asian men and women have been harassed and attacked as rhetoric from those in power continually blames them for the coronavirus. Hispanic and Latino individuals have faced similar rhetoric, questioning their right to be in a country that claims to welcome all. LGTBQIA+ individuals fear the loss of their rights and lives as they see other members of the community being assaulted and killed.
It seems like there is nothing that hasn’t gone wrong or been lost in 2020. Typically, the first message from the executive editor is an uplifting call to have a great year, and I intend for this to be so. However, we have to be honest and shake off the toxic positivity that we have been conditioned to absorb.
2020 sucks. It has been immensely painful. Many of us have lost a lot over the past few months. Some of us have lost loved ones to COVID-19 or other complications. Others have watched family members with serious health conditions be forced into isolation or have to risk their lives doing simple things like running errands. Some of our parents, or even ourselves, have lost jobs. Others have been forced onto the front lines because of their work.
While some students have had the privilege of living somewhat normally during this time, others have been pushed into survival mode. COVID-19 is not the “ultimate equalizer.” It has revealed many fissures already present in our society.
Where does that leave us with four months to go?
It leaves us with each other.
Regardless of your beliefs, your major or your hometown, John Brown University is your community. It is the campus, the student body, the company that we are all a part of.
With a public health crisis that demands that we work together to protect our neighbors, it forces us to rely on each other. With a racial and historical reckoning that demands we examine the truth of our past, it forces us to look in the mirror to see who we have become.
For better, for worse and for whatever comes next, we are stuck together. When someone gets sick, it impacts all of us. When someone is harassed or demeaned because of their identity, it impacts all of us. If we learn anything from this time, it is that the body of Christ truly feels every bruise, every wound and every hurtful word, no matter which part is struck first.
Being with each other and belonging to each other during this time will require courage and compassion.
Courage to remind someone to back up if they are standing too close. Compassion to find new ways to wrap arms of love around our friends.
Courage to call out racism, xenophobia and homophobia in our community. Compassion as we enter into dialogue with those who have different perspectives and backgrounds.
Courage to care and sacrifice our comfort for the good of our neighbors and those whom we don’t know. Compassion to rest and care for ourselves during an unrelenting and trying season.
I, as your executive editor, promise to stand with you and for you this year. We, as the student newspaper, will seek to be inclusive of all perspectives with both the hard and good news. We will be ready and waiting to hear your voices.
With courage and compassion, we can get through this year, but we have to get through it together.
Photo: Katelyn Kingcade, The Threefold Advocate