Hi, all, Daniel-of-2016 here,
So, the election is ramping up in the here-and-now. We on campus seldom paid attention to politics, although most of us voted. We discussed the issues with each other over breakfast and we looked up information online and read the newspapers--the Front Office had subscriptions to several local and regional papers--but we didn't watch TV and seldom listened to the radio, so we weren't exposed to campaign adds or the constant psychological pressure of the talking heads repeating every detail of the race.
There were two elections that I remember, during my novitiate, the Presidential election of 2000 and the mid-term election of 2002. There may also have been local elections, but if there were I did not vote in them. The mid-terms were almost as un-dramatic. What I remember of 2000 was not the race or the election but the bizarre morning after the election when we showed up at breakfast, expecting to find out who'd won--even having to wait that long was bizarre--and learned nobody had. We all talked about politics then, for weeks, but once the matter was settled we soon went back to our own business.
When I say "we all," I mean everybody who was on campus at the time. The school year had ended by then, and a lot of people had left. Those were breakfasts we ate in the Great Hall.
Should we have been so isolated? It was nice, in some ways, not to have to worry about the sometimes nasty and contentious would of electoral politics, to act as though the only thing that mattered was the caring community life of the school. Then, too, I think our general feeling was that politics is a private matter that the masters didn't want to influence and we didn't want to argue about. I don't know how most of my fellow students voted, and I knew none of the masters' politics.
Now, I know more, having spoken to many of them on the subject since. Because the thing is, the larger world does matter, and it always did matter. And whatever differences we might have argued about were real, whether we knew about them and acknowledged them or not.
In retrospect, it's really bizarre that we treated politics as more private than religion or sex, that we didn't trust ourselves to deal with the interpersonal issues that political discussion could have caused, that we did not treat the ethical and philosophical dimensions of the democratic process as a worthwhile part of our learning and study.
We have changed as a community. We are discussing politics now. And we are arguing and we are dealing with it. I think we are a better community for it, but sometimes I miss that feeling of living in a safe little bubble where nothing mattered to us but us.
There are a few aspects of recent posts I could discuss, but I think I'll let them wait until later.