There’s a state of emergency declared as I write this. People aren’t allowed on the roads, there isn’t bread on shelves for miles, the Post Office—that great bastion of insurmountability—has shut down.
And yet, in a few short hours, more than two dozen people are going to work their way across an icy, blustering campus to put this magazine together. It will represent the 120th year, unbroken, through war and depression and discord that they’ve done this. I’m awestruck.
It’s a wondrous thing to find something like the Tufts Observer. People willing to commit time, such limited time, to something bigger than themselves. Something hopefully better than ourselves. It’s a funny project we have here: writing our thoughts and creating our art and trying to find some measure of truth and virtue in a large, often untrue world—and sending it all off into the void.
And yet, every day, the members of our staff take time that they could spend studying or partying or working, and they build something here. It’s a wondrous thing; I almost wrote rare, but it’s not. Not here. I hope not anywhere. People can be small and they can be petty and cruel and they can be the worst of us. We can be the worst of us. But every once in a while, we can be the best of us too. We can work together to be better than our own faults, to create something that is good.
The theme of this issue is disruption. To many people it’s a negative word. Disruption is rarely easy; it is rarely fun. To swim against the current can be that worst of things—it can be pointless and it can make things so much less—but it can be the best of things too.
There are people in this issue trying to disrupt a climate change that may bring humanity to its knees, trying to fight those who would oppose freedom of speech, and those who would oppose freedom of religion. There are people trying to dismantle political evils with laughter and people, here, on our campus, trying to disrupt a bitter racism, a dark stain that seeps into every fissure of our society. We will look back on this as a time of great change. Let us try to be on the right side of it.
We will all be gone from this school soon. Even the youngest of us, we will be thrust into the current—washing over and around us, so strong that there will be no thought but to float along. It will be easy to do that. It will be easy to laugh at those who don’t or to dive deep enough that you never move at all. It will be easy to spend months or years or decades floating in the wrong direction; I know I often have. It will be easy to spend so long in the water that you forget there is a current at all.
If I can ask one thing, it is that we jump out of the water every now and then. That we see which way it flows, that we try to see some right in it, some truth, some kindness, some good. And that when we dive back in, we try to swim, as hard as we can, not just where the water runs, but where it should.