Letter from the editor: think before you hit ‘post’

Photo by Anna Delph
Photo by Anna Delph

Dear Readers,

This is not the letter I imagined writing at the beginning of the year. When I came on staff with Chimes I was blown away by the sudden influx of opportunities and responsibilities.

Leadership skills that had lain mostly dormant during my freshman year at Calvin were suddenly being pushed to their limits. I was excited, I was nervous and I was intensely aware of my inability to manage this job on my own.

Chimes was the best thing that had happened to me at Calvin.

Much of this changed with the publishing of a highly controversial article in late February. There were definitely mistakes made on the part of myself and other leaders in Chimes that may have prevented some of the chaos that ensued, but the magnitude and nature of the response of many of our online readers was unprecedented.

To be clear, I do not regret publishing that author’s opinion. The fact that his article stirred up such an immense controversy proves that this is a sore spot for our community and that there is nowhere near a universal opinion on that issue.

But that incident has become a defining moment of my time as the Opinion and Editorial editor because of some of you, dear readers. Even putting myself back in the mindset I was in while reading your comments causes my heart to race.

The nature of the internet is that we have the ability to share our feelings — as raw or as vague as we choose — without ever dealing with the effect our words have on other people.

I am a 20-year-old, 5-foot-3-inch, 85 pound female who uses sarcasm and loudness to get what she wants and keep people at arms’ length. It’s taken me years to realize that letting people in can actually lead to a fuller and more beautiful life.

I’m not someone who is usually viewed as a threat to anyone and thus am rarely attacked in any way. Until I published a controversial article.

When I read comments from people far older than I calling the writer, the editor in chief and myself irresponsible idiots, I believed them. When people commented that we had no respect for human life and should be at the very least punished, if not expelled, I took that to heart.

I believed that I was a horrible Christian. I believed I should leave Calvin. I waited for an email from the administration that would end my time at the school I love and have sacrificed so much to attend. You, my readers, can have that power.

I am now at the end of my time here at Chimes and I am going to do something I rarely do: beg. I beg of you to learn to love those you disagree with. I beg of you to read what you type before you hit “post” in our comment section. I beg of you to love next year’s OpEd editor better than you loved me.

I will close with a verse that I believe God gave me throughout the year as his promise that he had brought me to this place and to this position. Esther 4:14 bears the words of Mordecai to a frightened Queen Esther: “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

For such a time as this. A time and place in which diversity is increasing which, despite all the beauty that brings, is confusing as our expectations and norms go unmet. A time and place in which we are over-saturated with media and technology. A time and place in which love has come to mean blind acceptance and tolerance.

May we not be afraid to face head-on the ideas and realities that differ from our own. May we relinquish our fears that evil will win, that the church will be snuffed out, to the hands of the Almighty. May we trust that God can and will use us in his redemptive work if only we will listen and act.

About the Author

Abby Paternoster

Abby Paternoster is the Chimes opinion and editorial editor for the 2013-14 school year. She is a sophomore from Ann Arbor, Michigan studying international development and social work. She loves to travel, experience new cultures and witness the work God is doing around the world.

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