Post Classifieds

Compromising of hair and policies

By Taylor Fulkerson
On November 21, 2012

The past week or so has been tumultuous: the election stirred us all up at least a little, whether it was over the changes we perceived imminent or the onslaught of commercials; budget cuts were announced for almost every department in the university and the library; basketball
season began (I think); the dreaded pre-Thanksgiving
papers have all been assigned; and most startling
of all, I cut my hair. Yes, indeed, I cut my hair. It's come as
a shock and surprise to many, but I have reduced my shoulderlength locks to less than an inch that hugs my scalp and offers no protection against the wind and cold.
Despite all this, the world is still spinning. Despite the over
$6 billion spent on the election, despite a frightening pile of assignments on my desk, despite the fact that some of my friends are still having trouble recognizing me now, the status quo really hasn't changed. While the president was reelected and both houses of Congress retained their respective majorities, I'm still struggling to get everything in on time, and I'm still very philosophical. So why haven't things changed? Why is it that "the center can hold?" When
things seem to be in flux, where has our lack of change
stemmed from? On the sociopolitical level, our unchanged
situation seems to come from two things: a commitment
to democracy and the fact that we don't talk about
things. I think it's telling that despite the ridiculous
amount of cash pumped into this election on both sides, especially when the coffers on one side were fuller than the other, that the less affluent camp kept its candidate in the White House. I think this is a good thing, but not because it's President Obama. I don't want to say anything about his presidency at the moment; I mean to say that even when our country is deeply divided and we try to pump money into swaying the country one way or another, we still discredit attack ads. We still recognize the importance of casting a ballot. We still know that the lies and exaggerations
are simply lies and exaggerations. Why is that important?
Arguably, it means we can still think for ourselves. Do we always act or vote in total prudence? Absolutely not, but
democracy is still alive and well when dollars don't decide the presidency. On the other hand, not much has changed in recent years. Sure, we passed healthcare (or some
watered-down version of it) and marriage equality has made some strides. Even immigrants are in a slightly better place with deferrals in place for a two-year period, for
starters. But as Americans, there are a lot of things we don't talk about: drone attacks and ethics, income inequality and poverty, the long term vision of immigration into the United States and why it happens in the first place.
Our Congress has not been this partisan since immediately before the Civil War. We frequently turn on each other based on petty labels. We don't talk about the heavier issues and things aren't necessarily getting better. They're staying the same. If we did have dialogue, how
could we change things? If we had something like the
lifeboat debate for life outside of college, where people discussed (from multiple disciplines) the pros and cons of real solutions that aren't just proposals by Democrats or Republicans, what could we come up with? What if
we became more motivated over politics than basketball?
Yes, we've kept our democratic ways but eaten our partisanship, too. My point is this: it's painful to see how much we talk and spend and how very little we actually get done. That conversation can start from the ground up, though, with normal people. I think we need to start serious
but patient conversations if we do want to see change that we can all agree on. We have to compromise sometimes,
friends. It's my gut feeling that we may need that in our own
university soon. We need to talk politics and university policies without shouting matches. All-in-all, I decided to compromise on my hair to look half presentable for a number of events this month and to make life a little easier, but I certainly didn't have to waste $6 billion on it.
No one yelling at me changed my mind. If we're going to get anywhere at all with each other, it's going to be through openness and dialogue, and Xavier ought to be a place for it.

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