One’s true strength of character is not revealed in times of success but rather in times of struggle and strife. Our community has been tested, and how strong we really are will be revealed in the coming weeks and months.
Some have described the recent climate of our school as “a civil war”, with two camps—one critical of the sharing of a private moment, another standing up against ignorance and bigotry—, but there is much to learn from the situation we find ourselves in, and disunity hampers that education.
The playing of a game that reduces the most pure manifestation of evil the world has ever known to some red solo cups and coors light must not go unaddressed: nothing is ever “just a game”. The trivialization of the deaths of millions is unacceptable, but those that played a part in this trivialization did not do so out of blatant hate or anti-semitism, but rather out of ignorance and a lack of realization as to the significance of their actions. And that really is the root of the problem, some didn’t think that what they were doing was wrong—so much so that they shared the activity over social media. For those that saw no fault in their behavior there was no moment of, “wait…what are we doing here?” It is up to the rest of us to perform this reality check on ourselves and those around us, always question your actions and never settle into a cycle of falling victim to your own falsely perceived goodness—as some have.
Something had to be said, and it is not fair to criticize those that have decided to do so. We have all found ourselves in situations that were uncomfortable, where something was happening that we knew was wrong and elected to keep quiet and maintain the status quo. Keeping quiet does nothing to benefit anyone but ourselves, it is self serving and makes us equally as negligible as the perpetrators themselves. Those that expose society’s blemishes—as those that have chosen to bring this issue to light have— are, as Dr. Martin Luther King said, “not the creators of tension. [They] merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive.” The sharing of a photo does not create problems, it simply reveals issues that already existed, albeit in a more shrouded fashion, and our community is better off for it.
Some have elected to choose sides, this separation is misguided and damaging. We will move on from this, we must, but we have to do so together. The spotlight and media coverage may be fading, but the dialogue and discussion that has taken place must not disappear with it. Clearly our community is not as perfect as we’d like to think, and it is important that we are honest about this. Pointing fingers and shifting blame—either to those that participated or those that revealed participation—, achieves nothing. What can actually do something is participating in active dialogue. Whether it be a conversation about the modern importance of the holocaust, anti-semitism, teen drinking and party culture, or the morality behind openly revealing participants in such activity and social media’s overall effect on our daily lives, it is imperative that the conversation take place—and passive aggressive Facebook posts from either side will not suffice.
The facade that the Princeton community is an entirely accepting and educated place has been shattered, and it is up to us to the community itself to piece it back together. Students can do so by making the right decisions and thinking before they act. Parents should not turn a blind eye to underage drinking and should play an active part in ending our school’s pervasive party culture. The administration can strive to create a more knowledgeable student body when it comes to complicated issues and can do a better job of ensuring its supposed student leaders are actually living the lifestyles they promote and not participating in activities they bemoan.
Our community, with all of its flaws and imperfections, has been placed under the spotlight. Our hope is that the spotlight reveals a community working together, being honest and civil with each other and respecting those on opposing sides. What Princeton is, who we are at our very core, is not defined by moments of weakness but rather through prolonged strength and unity. As we confront the problems before us, it is imperative that we do so as a unified front.