November 6, 2020
In the wake of this week’s election, emotions are running high. As we process toward clarity in the Electoral College, we see that rancor, recounts, court challenges, and protests may continue. No matter which candidates prevail, the popular vote in the presidential contest is an inescapable indicator of the profound divisions in our society today and the work yet to be done to bridge them. We will need to bring open minds and charitable hearts to continuing civic engagement in this post-election period.
Our Jesuit mission calls us to engage, and to engage with love, to be willing to reach deep within ourselves, risk discomfort, confront ambiguities, and respect the full spectrum of humanity of one another as we pursue education and research that enlarges the greater good. In confronting difficult problems from many perspectives, we recognize that God lives within all of us. We proceed on the assumption that those with whom we disagree also come from a place of love—a Jesuit guidance that is not always easy to follow!
This election falls during Ignatian Heritage Month, our community reflection on the Jesuit values that underpin a Loyola education. Among the most essential of those values is a commitment to respectful and civil discourse and to finding common ground to advance social justice, achieve greater peace, and to help reconcile the fractures in our society and world. Regardless of which candidates were supported, one thing that became clear is that neither extreme can claim a mandate; we have to overcome our divisions in order to care for the common good. St. Ignatius provides wise counsel to help us dialogue with one another when he wrote in the Spiritual Exercises that we “must be more ready to put a good interpretation on another’s statement than to condemn it as false. If an orthodox construction cannot be put on a proposition, the one who made it should be asked how he understands it.” The university is precisely the place where ideas can be debated without having to demonize someone with a competing idea.
We are proud of our community’s passion for civic engagement. The 2020 election has seen a greater level of involvement from our community than ever before. More students registered to vote and voted in this election than any previous time. This passionate engagement also gives rise to diverse emotions. So as to not retreat into bubbles of righteous certitude, beginning now and continuing through the spring, we will offer many opportunities for discussion and I encourage everyone to participate in these formal and informal conversations. In addition, Loyola University Chicago offers a variety of resources for students, faculty, and staff, including resources for those who are struggling with the emotional impact of the election, COVID-19, racial injustice, and other difficulties our nation has faced this year. Please reach out and connect with these resources.
Let us find hope and comfort in our principles, focus on what unites us and be seen as a welcoming, respectful community even to those with whom we may disagree. Today, and in the days ahead, we have the opportunity to model civility, respect and constructive dialogue. Please join me in keeping the health and safety of each other and our nation in prayer.
Jo Ann Rooney, JD, LLM, EdD