by Kevin Copp ’18
Dr. Bernice A. King’s visit to Providence College in the midst of one of the most polarized political landscapes in recent history calls to mind the power of the people to create change. Just as her father, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., led the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and ’60s and inspired generations since as a result of his philosophy of nonviolence, so too has Dr. King highlighted the potential of the individual to make society more equitable through a commitment to trust.
Yet the missing piece that makes such a dedication to trust possible is the ability to overcome the fear that pervades society. Fear is the wedge in society that sits squarely between understanding and ignorance, keeping people apart instead of bringing them together. Comprehending one’s own fear and learning to conquer its debilitating effects is absolutely essential for creating a positive impact on contemporary society.
The fear of being one’s truly authentic self is the most dangerous and harmful type of fear that someone can experience. A person afraid of being totally honest with themselves oftentimes does not realize their self-deception. The person who is afraid of their true self does not challenge themselves to improve, but instead is content with maintaining the status quo. They are not concerned with being in touch with reality but rather with how many likes they can receive on Instagram and how many people will recognize them on campus. For fear that their true selves will be exposed, these people conform to the societal standards of beauty, lifestyle, and attitude, and never reach a level of comfort with their honest selves.
There are also people who are simply afraid of being wrong. They do not want their ideas to be rejected, so they might keep quiet and never enter into a true connection with another person. They also might project a close-mindedness so severe that they isolate themselves from others entirely, rendering themselves unable to feel any connection because they are so far out of bounds from the rest of society. The most dangerous idea someone can have is to think that everyone else should be just like them.
Conquering fear helps build a society on the bridges of trust and compassion, whereas the inability to be honest with oneself only ignites the incendiary walls of malice and greed.
So put away your fear, focus on being honest with yourself in the new semester, and heed the most common phrase in the Bible: “Be not afraid.”
2018 can be the year in which you talk to that cute stranger, work hard in class because it is actually important, and delete your Instagram because who cares how many people decided to post another picture of a sunset over the clock near Slavin? Doing more things that actually give you a deep-down sense of satisfaction can help you become more in-touch with your real self and change the world in small ways—the only ways that big changes can ever come to stay.
As Dr. Bernice A. King and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. have found, trusting our true selves can help us attain the dream of freedom that humanity continues to push toward.