Life can only be understood backwards; but must be lived forwards. Søren Kierkegaard
A community as sleep-deprived as Deerfield must understand the cruelty of a rude awakening to an already agitated rest. We have long known that this world contained flaws. Yet many of these issues dwelled in a sense of dormancy, benign tumors awaiting their spread across the globe. This past year will be remembered as one where threats of crises crossed the thresholds of ignorance and abstraction to receive flesh and reality. Our return to campus in the fall of 2019 was set over a backdrop of extradition protests in Hong Kong as well as wildfires in South America and Australia. We knew that democratic liberty and basic human rights were under threat around the world. We knew that loggers in the Amazon were clearing brushland through unregulated pyrotechnics. We also knew that a global pandemic was lurking and that our health system was unprepared. But fortune grimaced one last time and crumbled under the weight of the world.
The biggest mistake we could make right now would be to not learn from those oversights that created the chaos of the past year. We have compiled some of the most powerful, epiphany-inducing excerpts from articles our senior contributors inked into Scroll Volume XCIV. As we send you off to the summer, we recount the lessons and the warnings of the great Class of 2020 and hope you may find guidance in their reflection as we have.
People have asked me what it’s like in Hong Kong. I tell them that it’s scary. They nod as if they understand. They think—they know—it’s scary to watch a group of five teenagers like me disappears down a deserted road to a rally in the middle of the night, knowing that some of them won’t return home. – “Far From Home,” Madeline Lee ’20
In the September issue of Scroll XCIV, senior and graphics editor Maddie Lee described living in Hong Kong amidst protests against an extradition bill and the subsequent backlash from the Chinese government. She explained how disconcerting it was for her to return to Deerfield, where, even though students had the rights and access to free speech and expression, few were utilizing it. Lee encouraged Deerfield students to stay informed about international events and not get swept up by sensational or fake news. She urged the community to remain aware of affairs beyond the Deerfield bubble. These issues, Lee reminded us, often seem small and far away from campus. But it is worrisome that we ignore global issues that impact members of our community.
It may sound like there is no hope, and that the desolation and destruction of Australia are inevitable. You may think: what can one person do about this? – “My Home is on Fire,” David Chen
In the January Issue, David Chen ’20, an Australian native, wrote a riveting piece about wildfires in his homeland and urged us as a student body to take action. For Chen, the wildfires felt tangible, but for others in the community, exposure to the fires’ damage did not extend beyond a news headline. Chen urged the Deerfield community to engage in action and thought, regardless of proximity to crisis. In the time of COVID-19, where it is so easy for some Deerfield students to turn a blind eye due to the privilege in their proximity, Chen’s words are particularly resonant. As Chen encourages us, dialogue and action coordinated by a diverse group of individuals with differing thoughts are not a hindrance; they are an asset. Whether that asset is applied to the dialogue about climate change, the practice of social distancing, or even our collective leadership on campus, the asset is fundamental.
But the problem lies in the fact that this diversity of thought means nothing if we only associate with like-minded individuals. – “Why Trump Will Win Again,” Teddy McCarthy ’20
President of the Deerfield Young Republicans Club Teddy McCarthy ’20 tackled the topic of the 2020 presidential elections acknowledging the division within the Deerfield community. Addressing the fact that the previous 2016 election polarized institutions like Deerfield, McCarthy emphasized the importance of perspective. In such times of political division, it is often difficult to acknowledge the validity of opposing arguments. When we label ourselves as “Democrat” or “Republican,” we confine our perspective with those who share similar beliefs, goals, and opponents. The American political system encourages compartmentalization: to stay within the zone of safety in exchange for losing a more objective take. The truth is an unfamiliar and uncomfortable place to be. Lean into it.
Everyone is guilty of falling into their individual busy schedule of classes and becoming oblivious to the struggles of others. This change, if anything, is a reminder to support everyone on campus, regardless of their personal experiences, regardless of the mental illnesses they may or may not struggle with. – “Novels Need Trigger Warnings Too,” Gigi Deinard ’20
Senior Writer Gigi Deinard ’20 wrote about the importance of offering students who have struggled with abuse, sexual assault, or self harm the opportunity to mentally prepare for novels that may trigger shocking experiences. Deinard highlighted that the ability to make an impact in helping others comes with a choice. It is easy for us to think solely about ourselves and avoid confrontation with others’ struggles, but it is difficult and essential that we support others within our communities. In order to make a change, you must alter your point of view beyond your own experiences.
Somewhere along the way, woke culture has been distorted to be less about understanding, less about the willingness to wrestle with societal problems, and more about the facade of political competency. – “Letter From the Editor,” Claire Quan ’20
Editor in Chief of Scroll Volume XCIV Claire Quan ’20 reflected on the corruption of woke culture. Whereas woke culture once represented the best of advocacy, it is now often used to simulate an image of tolerance in a process of self-validation. Human ignorance and failure to pursue sound evidence are nothing new, but perhaps societal pressure to be politically correct is, or at least, it has increased. Feigned wokeness is inadequate towards generating the reflection that produces progress. The truth is the truth; nothing more, nothing less.
We are calling for the underclassmen to respect our leadership. But, before they can respect us as leaders, we have to first be leaders. Regardless of whether we have a titled position, every single one of us has the responsibility of being a leader on this campus. We need to start acting like it. Just as showing respect is manifested in small actions, leading is an accumulation of little things. If we want the underclassman to buy in, we cannot be sitting down during cheerleader tryouts. If we want the underclassmen to listen to us, we have to first greet them on the paths. If we want the underclassmen to let us lead, we have to lead by example. – “Seniors, Lead the Way,” Scroll Board Volume XCIV
Class of 2021, as the rising seniors and leaders of Deerfield, we dictate how Deerfield will react to adversity; how cognizant we will be to the issues facing our world. When we return – and we will – we decide how to continue the community that Deerfield has always radiated. We will not fear the unknown, but rather, surge forward, navigating and understanding it. These times are unprecedented, and we have few past examples to look to for guidance. But this challenge itself lends us the opportunity to be extraordinary. Few, if any, senior classes have been placed in the situation we have. Let us steer Deerfield, together, through this time of difficulty. We will lead the way.
Scroll Board XCV