A few words from your outgoing VP of Nothing.
As I sit in my cold house through the canyon, preparing myself for the last dead week of my undergraduate career, I reflect on those days when I more regularly used this blog as an outlet, an escape, for my thoughts and frustrations from being thoroughly embedded within the sometimes stifling environment of academia. I would retreat into Payson Library fully intending to knock out a few essays or lab reports, but instead, hours later, my “only” accomplishment would be two or three inspirational or gravely challenging blog posts. While my grades suffered, I delighted selfishly in what I was learning as the VP of Education… I could only hope that my discoveries were at least being shared among our few followers.
I am not ashamed to say that I have actively pursued becoming a figurehead for IJM’s ideology over the years I have been a part of this community; nor will I feel shame in admitting that I have been far from perfect in this pursuit. I have attempted to shape and encourage and inspire those with whom I have worked, and I have perhaps sometimes been naively over-confident in the power of words to do so. Still, I have thought a lot this semester about the words that I would impart to form a definitive cap on my time with IJM, but I think with all that I have poured into this club, with the conversations I’ve had, with the posters I’ve taped, with the blogs I’ve written, and with the speaker systems I’ve battled, I have already parted with pieces of myself that I felt confident about sharing and not getting back (I sometimes personally refer to these blog posts as my own personal horcruxes).
Frankly, for this season of my life, I have run out of things to say to this club without sounding like a broken record. So instead I’ve brainstormed on what I might share from those whose wisdom far surpasses my own, and, given that I have been thinking a lot about my potential (now confirmed!) time with Invisible Children next semester, I keep looking back to this letter written to an outgoing roadie class. Here’s an excerpt:
But I tell you this, those of you returning to the world, you have been commissioned. Tear down the walls that hinder purpose, community, virtue, sacrifice, and comradeship. Tear down the temples of fantasy that tell you to pursue isolation, self-interest, comfort, and security. And do not believe that [we] invented the fruits of service. These virtues, they are the by-products of several simple things: a commitment to purpose, hard work, and an invitation to those around you to join the true path of humanity. These beautiful things will come in other communities, with other manifestations of purpose.
They are all children of the same idea: the world is a place worthy of our efforts to improve it, and human dignity is born of such pursuit. If you seek these things out, you will find yourself awash with friendship.
Commit yourself not to rejection, not to the negation of what exists, but to the creation of what can be. By pursuing what is worthy, you will authentically reject what is not. Seek out your skills, as specific as art or as broad as hard work, and put them in the service of something valuable. And I tell you a pay-check alone is not valuable. If it’s Starbucks, work there not for the pay-check, but for the chance to speak to people who need to be spoken to. Every human being is dealing with something heavy. Bless them and you will see that coffee shop, that community begin to transform. And to the degree you focus yourself in this way, opportunities will come.
Many of you are just beginning your time with IJM, and some of you are seasoned but have a lot left to give. I am both ecstatic for you and hugely jealous. I hope you continue to build community among one another and you delight in the hard, but rewarding work that comes with battling apathy and injustice. But there will come a time when you too will have to part with this community, and when that time comes I ask you to heed the advice outlined above.
My own personal reminder to you: keep loving God and accepting His offer to fill you up each and every day. Thank him incessantly, and pray with the knowledge that He is far more faithful than we are.
I love you guys so much and my pride for this school truly lies with you and the love you have shared with the world. I owe you guys the commitment of my life to just battles, and, while we might be physically separated for the time being, I count on you to protect and fight alongside me in those battles.
In Peace, Hope, and Justice,