Unity and Human Dignity

Jim Collins
Jim Collins ‘84 President of Loras College

Dear Loras College Community,

Like so many in our country, I have struggled to watch, inhale and endure the nation’s political process play out over the course of the past several months. I knew that Tuesday’s election would produce a “winner” whose president-elect status would disappoint, disenfranchise or anger at least half of our country. 

In anticipation of the unknown, but most certainly contentious, results, I wrote a note to my wife, children, and our two families. My personal message, sent hours before the election results started to be shared, was offered exclusively as a practicing Catholic, especially since there is ignorance among the well-intended Catholic faithful. As such, I wanted to remind them that regardless of which candidate they preferred, the winner ought not necessarily be celebrated. In particular, and as advanced by Pope John Paull II biographer, George Wiegel, neither had a pro-life record of which one ought to be proud or defined as such.

Since the Loras dispositions encourage us to be “reflective thinkers,” I have prayed and discerned over the past twenty-four hours as to what the election results ought to mean for us as a Loras Community. For those who feel betrayed, disenfranchised, cheated, fearful, or denied, please know that my colleagues and I are fully prepared to support, care, and advocate for you in any possible way – just as we did prior to the election. For those who are relieved, satisfied, thrilled, or affirmed, please know that my colleagues and I are fully prepared to serve, support, advocate, and care for you in any possible way – just as we did prior to the election.

Whether you are pleased or discouraged by the election results, Loras College will remain unchanged with regard to its vision, mission, values and expectations. We will continue to demand and expect civil discourse, respect, and a shared desire for the common good. Most importantly, we will continue to demand that the human dignity of each person is honored regardless of race, political affiliation, sexual identity, creed, or national origin. I can tolerate a lot, but I will not permit the human dignity of even one person to be disallowed on this campus.

While the past few months of the nation’s political process has provided some of the worst displays of the human condition, it has been heartening to hear President Obama, President-Elect Trump, Senator Clinton, and former President Bush offer words of unity, a desire to work together, and a shared belief in the American democracy. For now, we ought to accept these collective wishes as true and worthy of our support.

The best way for all of us to move forward is to place less emphasis on the national election and to honor the dignity of all individuals through our words and behavior right here in our own communityWith regularity, we have found ways to support fellow Duhawks. We have garnered local, regional, and national recognition for the ways we have served those who need help. We have celebrated our respective accomplishments, not because we played a particular role, but more because we recognize we are part of a larger community.

Since we have demonstrated any number of ways to unify and support each other, I ask that you join me in finding ways to intentionally strengthen our community as we encounter this next transition in our nation’s history. Loras has proven an extraordinary resilience and faithfulness to mission through all sorts of obstacles over the years. There’s a reason why we proudly proclaim, “Loras Strong.” Let us again serve as a beacon to a nation in desperate need of light. After all, We. Are. Loras.

Below, please find one of my favorite prayers that our administration offered together at yesterday’s meeting. May we all say, pray and live out these beautiful words.

God Bless,

James E. Collins ‘84
Loras College

Prayer of St Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.