By: Kelsey Aylor, Co-Editor in Chief
These past few weeks have been a roller coaster of highs and lows, with excitements and tragedies occurring both close to home and across international borders. But above all September, for me, was a month of realizations.
Think about it: September was a constant barrage of news headlines that incited fear and sadness in those who read them. Major flooding in Nigeria, dislocating over 100,000 people; North Korea tests nuclear missiles, alleged to be the most powerful yet; Hurricane Harvey shakes the Gulf; Mexico experiences an 8.1 magnitude hurricane, its strongest in over 100 years; Hurricane Irma ravishes Caribbean islands and the Southeastern U.S.; another major earthquake in Mexico, this time with a magnitude of 7.1, killing hundreds; Hurricane Maria destroying populations still reeling in the wake of Irma – and so it continues.
Perhaps the one that hits closest to home for me personally is the fatal shooting of Scout Schultz, an LGBTQ activist and student leader at Georgia Tech. I was born and raised in the metro Atlanta area and a significant number of my friends from childhood either currently attend or recently graduated from Georgia Tech. One of my best friends now at Tech is an openly gay man, an ethnic and racial minority and an immigrant. As I heard news of the shooting, and later of the protests, I found myself panicking, fearing for the safety of this friend. He is safe, but there are many others who are not.
It dawned on me how often we take for granted our security and our comfort. And for the first time in a while, my protective barrier began to crack. The thin veneer began to crumble, showing me how I had taken my current position for granted. My friend could have been injured in the protests, or even worse, the victim of a fatal shooting simply for the color of his skin or for who he chooses to love; my family’s home, in the path of Hurricane Irma, could have easily been one of those with its roof ripped off, trees felled into its walls.
Although we often talk about the Wofford Bubble as something deterring us from exploring our local community, I think it has developed into something much more powerful, shielding us from the world around us. This protection can be positive, affording students a safe environment to explore academic interests and to grow into the people we want and need to become to attain our goals and our dreams.
But it can also be detrimental to our foundation as civically-minded global stewards. The power of the Wofford Bubble can keep us ignorant and complacent in our relative comfort of the college campus. With our major concerns being our busy schedules, our upcoming tests or projects and our jobs, real-world issues affecting real-world people can be overlooked or fall into the obscure void of the hypothetical – if it doesn’t happen here or affect us directly, do we really care as much?
We should care. We should care about the thousands displaced in Nigeria, the hundreds of families grieving their loved ones in Mexico, the neighboring island countries that were decimated by multiple hurricanes, our own populace currently struggling to bounce back from natural disasters, violence and political unrest. We should be aware, up to date and concerned about the suffering and struggles of people across the world.
Those same people may one day become our coworkers, our friends, our spouses. Or maybe they won’t. Regardless, their issues are important and meaningful. My plea for Wofford students is to please, do not let yourself become like me. Don’t let it take a personal tragedy for you to become aware of the global world around you or to be empathetically emotionally invested in the wellbeing of others. Wofford, take care. Take care of yourself, of our campus community, our nation and take care of the people you may never physically meet. Through this care and consideration, we can grow and learn to appreciate what we have more meaningfully and intentionally. We can affect change to positively impact our own communities, on macro and micro levels.
Again, I can only ask, take care.