Letter: What will we do with our fear?

Kim McLarin is a writing, literature, and publishing associate professor and a graduate program director.

Dear Emerson Community,

These are frightening times. We fear for ourselves, our families and friends, our students and staff and colleagues, the College itself. We fear for our country and planet. This fear is human and, given the circumstances, which need not be here reiterated, also quite sensible. 

The only question is: What will we do with our fear?

We can follow the plunging path of too much of our nation and attack one another. We can assume bad faith from the other side and tumble into self-righteousness. We can point fingers and level accusations, wounding with our anger. In doing so, we may fail to interrogate our own emotions and reactions. We can try to blow the whole darn thing apart. 

Or, we can try something else…

We can try something radical, something at odds with the current political and social climate. We can try community. We can assume good faith, even in the heated furnace of disagreement. We can state our positions firmly and clearly but without animosity. We can work collaboratively, exploring the opportunity for new pedagogies, and build a model for 21st century higher education for ourselves and our students. 

Emerson is a small college in a small city in a small state in, despite appearances, a very small section of the planet Earth. If we can’t figure out a way to navigate these treacherous waters here, together, is there any hope anywhere?

As artists, scholars and communication experts, we can lead the way. All we have to do is try. 

As James Baldwin taught us: 

“The precise role of the artist, then, is to illuminate that darkness, blaze roads through that vast forest, so that we will not, in         all our doing, lose sight of its purpose, which is, after all, to make the world a more human dwelling place.”

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