In The New Yorker, historian Jill Lepore wrote, “It’s a paradox of democracy that the best way to defend it is to attack it, to ask more of it, by way of criticism, protest, and dissent. ”
We are students — but we are citizens first. It is our civic responsibility to engage in critical discussion concerning our government. We must have informed dialogue to hold our leaders up to our nation’s fundamental principles.
On Wednesday, we were distressed to see rioters smashing windows, cops taking selfies with insurrectionists, and confederate flags waving through the halls of Congress for the first time in history, and we thank our teachers for dedicating their class time to discussing the news. In doing so, they acknowledged the severity of the events and our stake in them.
These discussions cannot be limited to one or two class periods, however. We have lived through a moment that we will discuss with our children, and that students will learn about in history textbooks.
We hope for a world in which nationwide crises do not interrupt our academic schedules, but even then, we must not abandon questions we have concerning the stability of our democracy, the racial injustice demonstrated in the lack of police response, and the role of a president’s dangerous rhetoric.
The majority of the Editorial Board will graduate within months. To lead “great and giving lives,” we must take with us the academic lessons from Horace Mann — but we also must become civically active leaders, which begins with sparking conversations.