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Insights & Opinions | November 7, 2012

Don't flee to Canada

Insights & Opinions

Inform, converse, engage, but don't run!

A college student votes in Colorado (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

I fell asleep last night with one hand on my iPhone, where I was simultaneously reading the Psalms, listening to Bon Iver, and scanning Facebook. As soon as Obama won, both cries of celebration and disappointed threats to move to Canada filled my screen.

I found Obama's reelection disheartening. I was sad to see the victory go to a leader who represents dependency, debt, and entitlement. Perhaps even more disappointing was the reality that Obama's campaign fought ugly with fear-based ads and hyperbolic logic.

I dragged myself out of bed this morning divided by two impulses. The first was to pretend it doesn't really matter. The second, to face my own inner chaos and work it out by what I do best: writing and drinking coffee. While I understand the "move to Canada" sentiment, I'm convinced there's a better way to move forward.

Our freedom as Americans is a beautiful thing. It means we get to participate in forming our nation's identity. Part of that responsibility is to get informed. We should make a habit of self-education. We should revisit our history and keep up with the current issues. We've grown accustomed to not talking about politics, but I think by "playing nice" and avoiding political debates, we're stunting our growth. Instead, we should make it a point to learn the "other side" through gracious conversation.

Part of that conversation should include asking ourselves and each other what it means for humans to truly flourish. For Christians, the biblical narrative is deeply concerned with what it means for people to flourish. It also offers a template for our understanding of history, the present, and the future. We should work out for ourselves what it means to face the turbulence of the times, the lessons of the past, and the uncertainty of the future with a mentality rooted in God's promise to redeem all things.

Lastly, we should be more intentional about the culture we consume. We shouldn't passively engage mass media (not even this column), the Internet or entertainment. Passive consumption is active formation. Instead, we should engage with culture more intentionally and respond proactively--the only way to improve culture is to create more of it. We have great technology and tools at our fingertips. How can we use those to cultivate cultural engagement and informed dialogue?

The impulse to flee is human and understandable. But we have the responsibility to participate in the formation of our society and culture. Our founding fathers fled for freedom, but they never used their freedom to flee from hard times. To do so would be a dishonor. Instead, we should think critically, discuss gracefully, and engage courageously.