The Softer Side: A Critique of Power and Silence

By Sam Embry

If I should fall from grace with god

Where no doctor can relieve me

If I’m buried ‘neath the sod

But the angels won’t receive me


Let me go, boys

Let me go, boys

Let me go down in the mud

Where the rivers all run dry

“If I Should Fall from Grace with God”

-Shane MacGowan

Sitting in on an ESG Senate meeting, I remained drunk and married to my anger.  Less a man of God and more a madman screaming “fuck your bullshit truth”, I fell from grace and wondered why I kept falling.  If it was out of fearlessness, then fine, I’ll keep falling.  If it’s out of recklessness, then bury me.  But if it’s because of bureaucratic silence, then I remain combative.  The college’s people in power, students and faculty alike remain quiet when the conversation is controversial and feelings may be hurt.  Rather than fight for growth, we shrink into the darkness.  This moment of silence, once contemplative is now an eternity of complacency.  The walkways of the Heart, hallways of Warren, and classrooms of Carpenter are full of gossip and tight-lipped conductors of forever and always.  Never had I imagined applying to a college that houses one of the most scared student bodies and administrations to exist.

Though I discuss the treatment of BDS, it only serves as an example of the stifling of controversy that serves to promote the shepherding of an infantile community.  The Senate meeting was fraught with invisible masters that orchestrated white noise against dissenting views.  Boycotting is controversial.  Divestment is complicated.  Sanctioning is in fact damning.  Conversation is not.  Only mimes laugh at limiting communication more.  Withholding the space necessary for a group, who addresses the human conflict in holy lands, to discuss their group’s goals and aims is simply one example of how this campus is covered in fear.  We worry too much about hurting feelings, so we say nothing and damn anyone who does as being wild, insensitive or a tyrant.

Megaphones are not required for conversation, but neither are strait jackets, muzzles, or ear muffs.  What do we have to fear by having a presentation of someone’s point of view?  Yes, having a group discuss their side of an argument is one-sided.  But if one more person tries to make me concede that putting personal biases aside or claiming objectivity is impossible I will throw a couch out off a balcony:  I know it is, but that reality does not scare me or cause me to become lethargic.  Presenting your side does not keep another from giving theirs.  Unless of course they claim insult and injury and sit back behind bureaucratic measures of comfort.  It is quite an amazing sight to see an organized group struck down not by another group or even a single person, but by a system.  No one person need say a thing or even address the issue at hand, but simply lay recourse to procedure and rhetorics of sensitivity.  Though that is true institutional power, it is not honesty.

Education is hard, it is uncomfortable, frustrating, painful, and absolutely beautiful.  However our collective attempts at neutrality, respectfulness, and hand-raising have wrapped growth in bubble-wrap, put it in a box of peanuts and popcorn to be shipped to another location that is capable of allowing children to become adults.  Instead of “Fully Present” I argue that this paper be called “Fully Naked”.  The administration is happy to produce a student body that is in fact totally afraid of their own vulnerability.  Be bare naked in front of your friends.  It requires fearlessness and resilience.  But it will grow your muscles.  If not in a university that cooks my food and cleans my plates, then where should I expect to challenge your ideas along with mine?

Conflict is messy, but so is love.  If we reach down into rivers for love we must expect to pull up mud as well.  It is a gold miner’s task to sift through jagged edges in order to discover precious resources.  Communication is indeed a labor of love.  Refusing to listen and wielding goliath systems of control against your brothers and sisters is destructive.

Go down in the mud of conversation and return never, for there is the grace of humanity.



This entry was posted in Issue 2: November 1, 2013. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s