Schneider: We are never too young to respect one another and live a conscious life

In the aftermath of the Brett Kavanaugh nomination process, we must change how we live our lives.

Ellen Schneider

I wasn’t sure I wanted to write this column. What would be the point of screaming into the partisan political void of heated debates, outright denials and tidal wave of opinions? There isn’t one, really. I try to write things that are productive, when I have something new or different to say. I thought I’d be muffled by the onslaught of media coverage and angry outcries.

But I think there is something left to say. Specifically, to people like us. Here’s the thing, we don’t exist in a time warp. Our actions will matter after we have tossed our hats on graduation day and kissed the last four years goodbye. Your slate will not be wiped clean, and you may need to answer for the things that you do here, in college, later in life.

I don’t want to speculate on whether the newly appointed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s accusers are lying and I don’t want to take sides – not this time. Instead, I would really like to advocate for living intentionally. So many students, it seems, live their lives on campus as if it is without repercussion. As if what happens here, stays here. But it doesn’t, and it won’t.

Kavanaugh, in case you somehow haven’t heard — in which case, I’d be extremely concerned — has been accused by three different women of sexual assault during his high school and college years. We all have opinions on this. Democrats think Kavanaugh is lying. Republicans think Christine Blasey Ford and the other accusers are lying in an effort to derail his nomination, fueled by political vengeance. I get it. I won’t try to change your minds in this instance because I know I can’t and I don’t believe it is useful to try.

What has struck me about this case, however, is how much we have dug out from the depths of these peoples lives. One of Kavanaugh’s high school buddies literally went into hiding. Blasey Ford’s ex-boyfriend talked to reporters about her flying habits. A stone has not been left unturned, and all of their dirty laundry has been aired for the world to see and gawk at.

You might think to yourself – but I’m safe. I’m not trying to get onto the Supreme Court and I haven’t done anything really, truly horrible. Sure, we all black out from time to time. Who doesn’t? Sure, we’ve all had one or two questionable sexual encounters, right?

You might be right. But times are changing. People will not stand for the abuses and disregard them because they happened in the past. We are not settling for shades of gray or lazy gender-specific excuses anymore. People are demanding explanations and concrete evidence — “I don’t remember” or “I didn’t mean to” simply aren’t going to cut it anymore.

Unless we change and unless we begin to live our lives like they matter and count for something, even now, we will be doomed to repeat this history. I don’t want to make assumptions or project, but I don’t think we are ever too young to respect one another and live conscious lives.

Or else we can continue to speculate and pull every skeleton and old monthly calendar (sorry, I had to) out of closets in an effort to find some semblance of truth, if it’s even there. We will never all agree. We will always tout political differences and harbor age-old grudges. But I see no reason to continue allowing young people to live as if their lives have not started yet.