The Election Year, Discernment, & BC Libraries

A man with his back to us at a voting booth in a gym with a police officer in the background.
Elections, Newton, MA, November 2023, from the Newton Beacon.

With another election year comes a bevy of misinformation and sophistry. The former comes in many forms with the goal of division, and the latter has more to do with convincing others to adopt a viewpoint, as opposed to rational discussion or consensus. Clearly, the former abets the latter and we all suffer from the preponderance of both.

Just because you enter a conversation with someone with another opinion, differing viewpoints do not imply enmity. Democracy hangs on the thread and underlying civility begins in our everyday behavior and comportment towards other perspectives and worldviews. When Boston College espouses “men and women for others” it means something important and foundational with character development, knowledge, service and faith.

Stained glass window representing Lincoln holding a paper, standing, in black and purple robes, and a black man in ragged slacks, shirtless, kneeling on one knee.
East wall of Bapst Library, political science alcove: Abraham Lincoln with the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863. From Transforming Light: The Stained-Glass Windows of Boston College.

Every election year presents challenges but this one projects as particularly mean-spirited and divisive. People will increasingly try to convince others to adopt viewpoints, and discussions will invariably turn ugly. Friendships may splinter and public trust could follow. But democracy and the republic are resilient, and with our formative grounding here at Boston College, we can transcend the chaos and bring a sense of reason and humanity back into the process.

At Boston College Libraries we take formation to heart and recognize that discerning individuals can and should think for themselves. They should critically examine assumptions, question easy answers and understand the complexity of virtually every political issue worth consideration. Moreover, formation necessitates curiosity and openness. As more information becomes available, perspectives can and often should change.

The pandemic changed everything of course, and people reassessed their values and life decisions. At the Libraries, we decided to redouble our commitment to the BC Mission and developed a strategic framework that reaffirms our role in student formation, the Catholic intellectual tradition, accessible and reliable content, and recruiting and retaining a staff that shares these values. The shared framework has made a difference in terms of morale and service commitment, and provides a community grounding in difficult times.

5 students seated around a table covered with sheafs of papers, discussing and taking notes.
Lynch School students working on a project together in the Educational Resource Center (ERC). (Photo: BC University Communications)

The Boston College Libraries have the content, expertise and services to assist in discerning the complex problems and enduring questions of our time, and in navigating the frequently unpleasant election year issues and debates. We know the entire Boston College community stands as one in hoping and working toward a better world. In the Libraries we are here for you, non-judgmental and supportive of your formative journey, a path that prepares all of us to to be our best selves despite the tumult that surrounds us.