By Leanndra W. Padgett
Back Page Editor
For all our complaints about disunity and division on campus, this week has shown that certain things do not fail to bring us together—loss, for one.
The unexpected death of Doc Birdwhistell has shaken the campus and brought students, faculty, staff and alumni together in a time of mourning and celebration of life.
Full disclosure—I did not know Doc personally. However, I have heard stories about him for years. This week, I have been in conversations with multiple people who revealed just how much he means to them and what a mentor and inspiration he has been in their lives.
I have been amazed at the wide variety of people wearing the black badges that read “Doc” in his memory or who have changed their profile pictures to the same image. His reach was wide and his influence broad, breaking the barriers that all too often block us from others.
Surely, it must not always take the death of a mutually loved professor to bring us all together. To be fair, there are events other than funerals that pack out the Chapel—the hypnotist, perhaps Opening Convocation and Baccalaureate. The gym and football stadium are usually full during games as well. Times of across–the–board oneness of spirit and broad support just seem too few and far between, however.
I watched the Sochi opening ceremony last Friday and experienced a surge of patriotism as Team USA entered in their stars and stripes sweaters (undeniably tacky, yet I want one to wear myself). I was reminded by this touching scene of what it can look like to unite amidst diversity. How much do you think a curler from Fargo and a bobsledder from California really have in common? And furthermore, what in the world do they have to do with students in Central Kentucky?
The answer to those questions will vary broadly, but my response is this: despite differences in talents and chosen sports, despite varying backgrounds and the baggage of troubles in their hometowns and home states, each of those athletes represents the same nation. They represent the viewers from the Bluegrass to the Badlands (sea to shining sea and all of that).
For 17 plus days, these representatives serve as a rallying point around which our nation can be proud. I understand that there are problems with and injustices within this country. Still, as we support our athletes and root for them in their competitions we can get caught up in the sentiment of a common cause. We should not do this just for the sake of it, but should indulge in feelings of unity and cooperation in order to go forth and make them a reality.
You know I’m still talking about Georgetown College, right? After the rallying point—after the funeral service of loss or the Olympic event of celebration—we must go out and act upon the unity which we clung to in time of need or joy.
What does that look like? Get involved in a cause on campus that you have previously neglected; show solidarity by attending an event that is outside your normal circle. For crying out loud, you can start by just introducing yourself to a stranger sitting next to you in the Caf.
Change the things on campus that you do not agree with (or at least speak up about them). This is a time of need; every member of Georgetown has a role to play. Please start (or continue) doing your part.