Last summer, I was responsible for transferring articles from the old Record website to the new one. There were over 5,000 articles that Augusta Nafziger and I had to handle. Although it was monotonous at times, the task gave me a unique opportunity to experience the various thoughts and feelings of the Goshen College community from the decade before I arrived on campus.I learned about a range of topics that covered everything from the inauguration of President Stoltzfus to, I kid you not, a student’s lamentations over losing his only nipple hair. Some of the articles that I read were hilarious and others intriguing, but the most interesting part was seeing the way things changed on campus as I worked through articles chronologically.
I was struck by the articles covering the LGBTQ+ hiring policy and the playing of the national anthem at Maple Leaf sporting events.
The debates spanned years and featured a range of voices, each adding something new to the discussion. Reading this collection of official statements, arguments and rebuttals was an insightful experience, because I knew where things were going, but I had no idea how they got there.
In both cases, GC policy was being debated by opposing sides and the administration was stuck in the middle trying to please everyone. It was a cycle in which the community would make a call to action, administration would address it, then the opposing group would say their piece.
In the end, the hiring policy was opened to members of the LGBTQ+ community and the song “America the Beautiful” was selected to kick off GC’s home sporting events, along with a moment of prayer.
As a whole, it showed me that getting things right isn’t an act you do once, it’s a process. Institutions like Goshen College use it, but the process also applies to you and me. Whether it be a political issue, or a problem within a relationship, it’s important for us to hear diverse input and put careful thought into getting it right.
The process also requires plenty of humility, because, though painful to admit, I’m not right all the time and you probably aren’t either.
What I’m learning is that getting things right is more about how you respond when you realize you’ve gotten something wrong.
It’s about listening to those you have conflict with or the ideas you haven’t considered and turning off your defensive response system. And it’s about moving forward with a commitment to the process of getting things right.
It doesn’t always go smoothly, but the only way to get things right is to keep evaluating and adjusting to new thoughts.