American culture demands that college students experience immense personal growth during their education. Under such external pressure, how can we make our time and growth at Amherst meaningful? It can feel as if the worth of our education is often framed as dependent on how much we change or how much we learn. While the pursuit of growth is an admirable ambition, we should be cautious of obsessing over volume and should remain critical of what our growth actually looks like. What are the indicators of development? Who chooses those indicators?
The saying goes: “Time is of the essence.” That is to say, the timeliness of events is paramount to their success.
Before we imagined what community looked like, we simply wanted it. Students and the institution both often rely too heavily on aesthetics. We try to create a community that looks and behaves a certain way, but we don’t always listen to the underlying emotional drive for social connection. Relational drive becomes sidelined for the sake of the relational product, and we lose sight of why we were trying to connect with others in the first place.
Speaking and listening across political divide in these times is challenging. We are intent on bringing conservative ideas to liberal campuses, or bringing liberal ideas to conservative campuses. We are focused on pulling in thoughts beyond our standard lines of thinking. We seek to break the assumed bubbles in which we exist. However, these efforts are often ineffective due to an absence of true listening.
Valentine’s Day has come and gone, and however you feel about the holiday, it’s hard not to have an opinion about it. Tackling conversations about love can be difficult. They run the risk of falling into sentimentality; we might worry about annoying others or drawing ourselves into pits of rumination. Especially on Valentine’s, it can feel as if there is a concrete hierarchy of love, with romantic love reigning supreme.
In an interview on “Meet the Press,” presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway defended White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s false claims surrounding President Donald Trump’s inauguration. According to Conway, Spicer’s assertions that the 2017 presidential inauguration was the largest-attended in history are “alternative facts.” Rather than confronting the possibility that Spicer’s claims are false, Conway created a new philosophical realm of thought in which the truth can — or cannot — exist.
A little over a year ago, Mark Vanhoenacker ’96 gave a reading at Amherst Books from “Skyfaring: A Journey with a Pilot.” At the event, someone remarked on the ways in which Vanhoenacker’s writing reawakens his readers to the wonder of flight. He allows us to reoccupy the space of a child who boards a plane for the first time and watches, wide-eyed, as the landscape drifts away below. In our “grown-up” world, flight has become overly normalized (for a privileged segment of the population). It is easy to forget to look out the window and remark on just how small buildings look.