Oct. 20, 2020: Our duty to vote, our commitment to community

Dear Spartans,

Today marks exactly two weeks before the general election after months of a turbulent political season. I take immense pride in voting, and I truly believe it is our civic duty to vote in every election — no matter how big or small the issues may seem. In this year’s general election, we are facing some of the most critical issues of our lifetimes, which makes our need to be heard even more profound.

These issues may have tested or strained your patience, faith and friendships. Spartans are passionate and committed to their values. While I applaud your passion and commitment, I encourage you to express your reactions with civility, respect and grace, whatever the outcome of the election.

Consider that no matter how objectionable you may find another’s view, the principles of civility demand our unwavering dedication to ensure the free expression of ideas so long as those expressions in no way cause physical harm to other people or property.

I ask each of you to help generate the respect, civility and grace we so desperately need in our country by:

  • Listening patiently and with an open mind — especially when there is disagreement.
  • Using language that communicates views without exaggeration or name-calling.
  • Looking for areas of mutual agreement.
  • Offering kindness, patience, thoughtfulness and empathy.

Broad generalizations, character assassination, questioning another person’s values or patriotism or harming another person or property have no place in our community. We must be mindful of anything we do that might promote these unproductive behaviors. Simply put, we cannot see those who hold different political beliefs as enemies.

I am asking that it start with us, Spartans, wherever you are at this moment. It starts in our classrooms, residence halls, homes and offices.

We know that whatever the outcomes of this year’s election or the next one, we remain a community of Spartans: leaders, lifesavers, world changers.

Samuel L. Stanley, Jr., M.D.