Fiat Forging Common Ground & Strength from Stress

As the United States Constitution was being finalized, Benjamin Franklin was asked about the form of government our founders had just framed: “Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” His response: “A republic…if you can keep it.” 

The insurrection at the United States Capitol on January 6 illustrate how apt Franklin’s observation remains and how important it is for the citizens of our country to remain mindful of our shared responsibility to uphold our democratic system of self-government. The members of the mob who ransacked the Capitol consisted of many individuals who proudly displayed symbols of hate targeted toward various groups of their fellow citizens; threatened to hang duly elected political leaders of both major parties; and hurled obscenities at and physically attacked law enforcement officers. They overran the Capitol in an attempt to prevent the certification of November’s election results and the peaceful transfer of presidential power.

While the jarring events at the Capitol were unsettling, saddening, and appalling, let us take heart from the longer arc of our nation’s history and all that our citizens have done to form a more perfect union—in spite of the many significant challenges that we have faced since the founding of our republic. Self-government, after all, has given us the opportunity to reflect and improve upon the core rights of our citizens, irrespective of race, gender, ethnicity, religious beliefs, disability, or sexual orientation. 

A quote from Charles Binns, the founding director of the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, seems particularly apt for these troubling times: “Out of the fire comes firmness, through stress we pass to strength.”

Here’s to all of us creating strength from the current stress and summoning the resolve to work continuously toward building a stronger community here at Alfred University and in the broader world. The means to do so is constructive engagement—through speaking out; listening; protesting (peacefully); talking through issues with other members of the Alfred family; and, certainly, by voting.

We bring a wide array of different backgrounds, views, and aspirations to Alfred University. Our intersection at Alfred University affords us the opportunity to listen to and learn from each other and thereby grow as individuals and in our capacity to make the world a better place. Let’s seize that opportunity to forge common ground at Alfred University and then beyond—thereby ensuring that we keep building upon the illuminating form of government given to us by our nation’s founders so that it can continue to serve a beacon at home and beyond. And please remember, there is more that unites us than divides us. By building on that unity, we will build a better future.

Fiat forging common ground and strength from stress!