I spend a lot of time on the internet. In particular, parts of the internet that aren’t always polite. Ever heard of 4chan? I’m used to slurs, trolling and flamewars, rage, shock-sites and Rick-Rolling.
So when I walked into class on the first day of J-term, I was expecting something much different than what unfolded. See, this was a class on Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy, an epic poem covering Heaven, Hell and Purgatory. Now, given that The Divine Comedy was written by an Italian Catholic during the 1300s, it’s a bit divisive. And medieval. And other descriptive words in the same vein.
Topics like free will, whether or not God is a tyrant, the justness of Limbo, Dante’s views on suicide and homosexuality, medieval Italian politics—on the internet, any of these would start a riot. But this isn’t the internet. This is Gustavus. We’re civilized. No matter how passionate we are about an issue, we’re respectful. Logical, reasoned discussion exists here, somehow, in a world filled with Honey Boo Boo and politicians.
Politics, religion, sports, whether or not Twilight deserves to be called literature – these are topics we discuss. And except for conversations involving Twilight, there have been no slurs, no shouting, no anger. Just logic and opinions. Honestly, it’s a bit scary. It’s not natural to be so polite! Or, at least, not natural on the internet. But I keep forgetting. Gustavus isn’t the internet.
I don’t know how we do it. Maybe, in the distant past (1862), a pact was signed with grotesque Elder Gods, granting us a haven of logic and reason among the world’s irrationality. Maybe we’re just smarter than the average bear. It doesn’t matter. What we’ve got here is awesome.
Not long ago, I attended a different college. A dingy place, with pus-yellow walls, a horrid place that shall not be named. This was a school where disagreeing with a teacher was grade suicide, where complaining to a dean got you marked “troublemaker.” Gustavus isn’t like that. Here, The Gustavian Weekly can report on the furor surrounding President Ohle and not be censored.
And that’s because of us. Well, you. I’m too tainted by the internet. You’re the ones who run GustieLeaks, you’re the ones who go to meetings, you’re the ones who throw out insights in class, you’re the ones who make signs, you’re the ones who participate. And you’re awesome. Every one of you. Seniors and first-years, English majors and Biology majors. All of you rock. Keep it up. May we keep our bastion of dialogue forever.
Now, I need to get back to 4chan. There’s an Anon who needs to be told that he is wrong. Wrong! WRONG!