Hart High School mascot debate highlights stark divisions within our community

We have a serious problem with division in this country, and the July 14th school board meeting only emphasized this fact. During the July 14th meeting, the school board debated and eventually chose to retire Hart High School’s Mascot. The board conducted itself appropriately and respectfully, but I can not say the same thing about the public. The adults who chose to speak at the meeting showed a complete disregard for basic decency, preferring to resort to hollow grandiose speeches and name-calling. Parents and students alike were labeled as communists, globalists, and Marxists for simply wanting to change a school mascot. Those who wanted the mascot to stay were labeled as racist for their actions, even if they came in with the best of intentions. It was, to put it mildly, shameful. Our complete inability to communicate with the opposition is the main problem with politics in America, and if it is left unchecked, it will lead to our ultimate downfall.

I attended the July 14 school board meeting; the meeting, in so many ways, crushed, then restored my confidence in our public institutions. I came 20 minutes early and had the opportunity to speak with those who disagreed with me. It was polite and constructive; they were conversations between individuals who respected each other. However, once the meeting started, tribalism ruled. People with whom I had once had cordial conversations with started to label me as a traitor to my community and high school. It is said in the bible that money is the root of all evil, but I believe tribalism and sectarianism are truly the harbingers of evil. These ideologies allow us to dehumanize, divide, and destroy each other, causing us to forget our shared humanity. 

Nevertheless, even in the chaos of the meeting, there was some order. The Hart School Board was dedicated to facilitating constructive conversation, and through their actions, they allowed me to see the light at the end of the tunnel. As long as our public institutions remain strong and dedicated to peace and cooperation, we will have the chance to overcome our differences. But we the people must also choose to speak to one another, even if we may disagree on some issues. We are all human beings, and we must treat each other with the basic dignity and respect that all human beings deserve. This is our shared challenge.