By: Mitchell Lai 18′
With a new year comes new goals, new friends, and new opportunities. However, it is the new struggles that we must endure that truly test our strength as a community and as individuals. I would like to welcome you back and provide some insight for how to proceed with this new school year. Let us look forward to the joyful times ahead while recognizing the undeniable moments of challenge that await us in this new school year.
This year, our school will work to deepen our understanding of the injustice of racism, our Justice Summit theme. We will hold a mirror up to ourselves and face our misconceptions about race.
This year, we will continue to reckon with the increasingly volatile political climate that divides our country.
This year, everyone will face personal obstacles in all shapes and sizes.
This year will present us with many challenges. However, when we face these challenges together can we grow together.
A Bell is someone who embraces empathy and rejects apathy. It means stepping into the shoes of someone else whether it be a classmate, a friend, or a complete stranger.
Three years ago, we were invited to step into the ill-fitting shoes that belong to the victims of human trafficking. In discomfort we listened, we learned, and walked. Together, we learned about the atrocity of modern-day slavery. That year’s Justice Summit taught us about sex trafficking in Thailand. As a community, we had to tear down our misconception of this type of injustice as an “other side of the world problem” and recognize its presence in our own backyard, as we learned about the presence of prostitution at Levi’s Stadium during Super Bowl 50.
Two years ago, we were encouraged to really look at the people who live on one dollar a day – to see them as people instead of statistics. Together, we worked to look deeper than society’s stereotypical understanding of the homeless. As a community, we worked to combat the prejudices we carry with us; the same prejudices that prevents us from seeing the homeless man or woman on the corner as our brother or sister. Two years ago, a Justice Summit speaker urged us to allow our hearts to break as we struggled to understand this real-world problem we often overlook.
Then there was last year, the year of the election. This was a year when political differences seemed to prevent us from stepping into the shoes of our own brothers. Unfortunately, the ugliness of the election found its way on to our campus. There were too many situations that mirrored the distrust, misunderstanding, and stubbornness that populated the newsfeed on our phones. Our differences evolved from discussions amidst disputes to language and actions that were undoubtedly harmful to a lot of our fellow Bells. It’s one thing to disagree with your Bellarmine brother; it’s another thing to disown him entirely. We are all an important part of this brotherhood.
As we encounter new challenges – no matter how big or small – we must remember to step into each other’s shoes to foster the brotherhood that we so cherish at this school.
Here are a few things to think about between periods:
Freshmen: WELCOME!… something I’m sure you’ve heard millions of time over the past several days. Don’t worry, I’ll spare you the typical spiel of how you’re about to embark on a journey of a lifetime and how special a place Bellarmine is. All of that is true, but it’s equally important to remember that you hold just as important a role in cultivating this brotherhood as any other student. It will be hard, but take every opportunity you can to become an empathetic person.
Sophomores: welcome back! In your second year, you will continue the self-discovery that you began a year ago. New challenges academically, socially, or in whatever else you pursue will push you to places you never thought you could go. It is important that you continue building your compassion toward your friends, classmates, and the rest of the Bellarmine community.
Juniors: good luck. If you remember anything amidst standardized-testing stress and research-paper hell, remember that you are now a leader at Bellarmine. Underclassmen look up to you to guide them through their journey at Bellarmine as you continue to forge your own. Step into their shoes and remember all the help you have received from those who came before you.
Seniors – we made it, but we only have one year left to leave our mark. It should be our duty to leave Bellarmine a better brotherhood than when we found it. We should always look to lend a helping hand to the community around us. We have one more year to learn from each other, grow together, and make a difference in a place that has given us so much.
As Mr. Meyercord instructed this morning during the Mass of the Holy Spirit, we can start our work by following three steps to: understand, listen, and act. If we truly embrace the motto of being a man for and with others, there is nothing we cannot overcome. Together, we are Bells.