Editorial: Reflections on a rainy afternoon
By Richard Gaw
Directly outside the International Cultural Center at Lincoln University's “Feel the Roar” event for prospective and committed new students on March 31, an early spring rain attempted to wash out the great expectations that the welcome address had built up inside the large auditorium moments before.
It didn't work.
The Chester County Press reporter sat in the rear of the crowded auditorium and listened to the words of Interim President Dr. Richard Green, Provost Dr. Patricia Ramsey and Associate Director of Admissions Nikoia Fredericksen. Their words were inspiring. Their words planted the first bricks in hundreds of individual journeys that will begin on this campus in the fall.
As students and parents began to file out of the auditorium to a series of breakout sessions, tours and a pep rally, the reporter juxtaposed the positivity he was seeing against the backdrop of our nation's current climate, the news of which has minimized Optimism to a precious drop of water in a sweeping drought of Fear that attempts to dismantle the best of who we are, both here in Chester County and all across the nation.
The reporter reads that in order to put a down payment on confronting that Fear, the new administration's budget includes a $54 billion increase in military spending, and beefed-up funding to help deport more illegal immigrants and build a wall on the border with Mexico. He reads that the budget includes massive cuts in spending for the Environmental Protection Agency, the State Department and the Agriculture Department, as well as 19 other federal agencies, including the Education Department, the Labor Department and the Department of Health and Human Services.
While it is our government's responsibility to protect its borders and its citizens, these responsibilities should not come at the expense of neglecting them. Consider, for a moment, what severe cuts to agriculture, education, the environment and healthcare would have on Chester County alone. Grants that pay for teacher training, after-school programs, and aid to low-income and minority college students would be downsized. Job training programs that benefit seniors and disadvantaged youth would be reduced. Funding for the insurance provided by Medicare and Medicaid, two vast entitlement programs for older and lower-income Americans, would be wiped away. Indeed, much of the fabric that connects us as a community -- business, education and agriculture -- would be severely threatened.
Seated in this auditorium, the reporter thought, is the future of what our nation will become. For those students in that audience who choose to attend Lincoln University, they will soon become the beneficiaries of a world-class education that sees learning as part of a global classroom, not one marked by boundaries.
Somewhere in this auditorium, he thought, are the future iconoclasts, artists, engineers and the peacemakers of our nation, who will leave Lincoln in four years and launch their knowledge into the world, fearless of Fear, and committed to the idea that leadership is about inclusion, not separation.
Chief Justice Thurgood Marshall, a graduate of Lincoln University, said that "In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute."
The rain did not let up. The reporter walked to his car, drenched by the weather, and enlightened by Hope.