Throughout my life I have been inspired by the Quaker commitment to speaking truth to power. In the wake of last Tuesday’s election, I find myself drawing deeply on this idea. In a sense, no matter the outcome of any election, whether we agree or disagree with the underlying vision and values of any candidate, speaking truth to power should always inspire our national dialogue. Yet, this election result presents unique challenges to our integrity as a nation bound together by an aspiration of justice for all.
As a community committed to environmental stewardship, the necessity of speaking truth to power has never been so clear. The agenda of the incoming administration threatens to undue critical efforts to forestall the effects of a changing climate, those critical few places in policy and regulation, where we have made a commitment to ourselves and future generations to protect wild places, promote fertile soils, cleaner water, and a healthier food system. The belief that growth is paramount and that human suffering is alleviated by having more may have prevailed in the election, but I hold with you that the same truths we held up before the election are the same as we must hold up today.
The Quakers believe “that love endures and overcomes; that hatred destroys; that what is obtained by love is retained, but what is obtained by hatred proves a burden.” This time calls upon the Sterling community to be intentional about our support of all members of our community. The truth of our community is found in our commitment to the wellbeing of women, people of color, religious minorities, those with undocumented status, LGBTQ peoples and the many intersections therein. Environmental stewardship, our commitment to support a deeper relationship between humanity and the natural world, means all of humanity.
As president and community member, I am proud of the civic engagement and activism of our students, faculty, and staff. It is a fundamental right to express discontent, in fact, throughout human history, it has been among the most effective ways to speak truth to power and promote change. Another is the essential role that higher education has played in addressing critical environmental and social issues. As a community, and as a college, at this moment in history we must continue to and, ever more effectively, speak truth to power.
In faith and hope,