Editorial: Handling long-term change

Use discourse to cope with events, not engender change


Kaitlin Hsu

Especially when instances of alleged injustice and misconduct happen locally, rather than in a distant community, we are allowed to take time for ourselves to cope, reflect and process, in whichever way we choose to.

In the past few weeks, a student left Harker in a cloud of controversy, and a middle school teacher was accused of sexual misconduct. We’re all kind of messed up about this, and that’s okay. These situations suck. Let’s just admit it.

Basically, it’s hard to figure out what’s the “right” thing to say and think right now. Who are we supposed to side with? How can we express our opinion without being offensive? Which side is on the right side of history? The discourse is like a river. A river that’s spewing everywhere and we’re drowning in it.

With all of this pressure to be right, it’s easy to forget what should be all of our number one priority right now: grieving. It doesn’t really matter what the right thing to think is. What is important is that all of us talk it out in a civil manner and figure out how we feel. Discourse doesn’t have to be about activism – it can just as much be a coping mechanism.

And don’t get me wrong, there are people who take issue with grieving about this too. This isn’t the Syrian refugee crisis, or landmines in Laos they’ll say, so you’re not allowed to grieve.

Ignore them. We were blindsided and shocked and if you need to grieve to process, grieve to process. Talk or don’t talk. Cry or don’t cry. .

The thing is that there’s no right way to deal with this. There’s no solution to how you should cope, think, feel or discuss.

In journalism we like to say “afflict the comfortable, comfort the afflicted.” The first half is not as applicable here, but comfort and healing are too often sidelined. We don’t have to go out and fix the world all the time. Right now, all we need to do is take care of ourselves.

Grieve how you want. Grieve what you want. Do whatever you need to do to understand and deal with what has happened, and don’t let people tell you that your coping mechanisms are somehow inherently wrong, because if they work for you, that’s all that matters.

This piece was originally published in the pages of The Winged Post on October 11, 2016.