The ultimate solution comes from above
For three years I have been producing a weekly opinion column for this paper. In that time I have written at least 70 columns on topics ranging from national politics to the athletic endeavors of our University, from international relations to structural improvements that can be made around Grounds. The commonality shared by all topics, from those of local importance to those of national or global significance, is that they all deal with some way in which the world around us is in disorder. We see a situation and instinctively know that it is not right. We all understand this, and this is why the opinion column exists. We know that our world is rife with situations that are not as they should be, as we know they would be if the world were a perfect place. Opinion columns highlight this situation and are predicated on providing answers and hope to the problems that plague our world.
The fundamental presumption for the opinion page is that there are distinct issues that plague our community and society and that these can to some degree be rectified. We are all too cognizant of the ways in which our world falls short of perfection; we experience them in our own community and see them present in the larger world, though we may not feel the effects as directly. Whether an unprovoked assault on two of our fellow students or internecine violence in a country in Africa, the daily presence of homeless people on the Corner or reports of mass starvation in North Korea, saddening events take place with astonishing rapidity in our world. Even before the novelty and shock from one subsides (much less before the inevitably long-lasting trauma can be laid to rest), another flies onto our personal radar screens. Death, destruction, sickness, starvation, and other forms of suffering all exist in untold volumes in our world, and if we merely pay attention to things outside of our own mind, they are nearly inescapable.
This constant bombardment from reminders that we live in a far from perfect world can elicit one of three reactions from us. We can ignore the trauma that occurs in the world around us, choosing to move unfeelingly through our days absorbed in the minutiae of our own lives. We can adopt a fatalistic attitude and take it in stride without questioning why such events take place. Or, we can pose the question of why bad things occur, engage the flaws in our world head-on, and seek out a solution. This is the purpose of the opinion column and the reason why people read it. We hope that someone else will take on a troubling issue, analyze it, and at worst produce insight, and at best, a novel, practical solution. Ideally, in the end, this will result in the resolution of the problem that the column first sought to engage.
To me, this demonstrates a shared belief among those who read the opinion column that the world can be changed if individuals are willing to engage the problems present in it. We see this ideal present in so many of the groups that take place even in our immediate community, from fundraisers for the cure of a disease to events designed to bring relief to foreign groups of people. The optimistic spirit that improvement of our world is possible and that we can play a role in it is pervasive amongst students at our University. I believe that this is correct, but does not encompass the entire truth. There is hope that our world can be changed, improved, made perfect. But the magnitude of the problems we face towers high above any solutions we can provide individually and threatens to drown our efforts in futility. So where do we find hope that the world can change, that the evils we all recognize and desire to combat can be alleviated?
This columnist’s opinion is that the answer lies with the divine. While I commend and encourage all the efforts in which we engage, trying to improve the world, seeking to bring words, images and acts of truth and beauty into spaces of misfortune, the ultimate answer to the world’s suffering comes only from God. Only God is capable of dealing with disorders in the world of the magnitude we see omnipresent. The Bible tells us that God will eventually bring order, perfection and beauty to the broken world that we inhabit. Our works and our efforts are part of this, but the over-arching project, and the bulk of the work belongs to the Lord. That is where my hope comes from, that eventually all the things I write about week in and week out will be made right by God. And as I leave this University, I believe that He has been making things right here, and will continue to do so in the years to come.
Robby Colby’s column appeared Thursdays in The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at email@example.com.