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What’s the fun in fundamentalism?

Alex Morris, senior editor

It was April Fool’s day a year ago, I remember so vividly, when The Echo crew made a decision to publish a joke paper for the day.  Among other funny works, there was included in the satirical issue a play article on Sandy Pfeiffer’s house as a trailer, Cows on Campus (rather than Kids on Campus), a pseudo piece about the editors being held hostage and a joke about the Women’s Resource Center that I’ve got the sense not to repeat in this article.

After a year has gone by, I’ve had lots of time to reflect on the infamous issue that later left me choking back sobs at a meeting of concerned students, as I attempted to explain that “we were only trying to be entertaining to the student body, not advocate misogyny or sexism. “  While I have since learned that what’s funny to some on this campus is certainly NOT funny to all, a more important personal lesson learned from the entire April Fool’s controversy for me was that I must never, ever, take myself too seriously.  For the sake of having friends, and more importantly, for the sake of walking the talk.

Ah yes, seriousness. Something that pervades this campus like a local food bumper sticker or maybe just a Che Guevara t-shirt.  Sign up for a protest during your all-vegan lunch, or perhaps express your outrage at a poetry slam.  Whatever your method may be, hit ‘em hard with your passion, do not turn a blind eye to all of the Wilson community that disagrees.

Wait a minute though guys.  I’m a little confused. What is Warren Wilson in disagreement over? Besides, like, leash laws and smoking huts?  Don’t we all support local food?  Aren’t we all in agreement that the School of Americas should be shut down?  Don’t we all want to keep the RISE Project up and running?  Didn’t we all get carted carful by carful to vote early for our very first black president? I must clarify, there are a few that don’t fit in with the Wilson ideals, but we don’t hear from them much because they keep quiet, change their mind or drop out.

But hey, why do you think we hauled all the students early to the polls?  Because we may be one like-minded mess of mountain bikers, hikers, do gooders, tree smokers, banjo pluckers, Pisgah beer drinkers, hula hoopers, local meat eaters, transgenderbender right advocates, but the rest of Swannanoa isn’t!  And, more importantly, the rest of the world isn’t either.  That’s why we’ve got to think globally, but act locally, man!
A little anecdote to lighten the mood.

As a first-year student, I came fresh out of a large conservative public high school in South Carolina, ready to become a full fledged 100% Warren Wilson College Student.  Much like skinny dipping in the WWC pond, I jumped right in to the Wilson mentality, joining the environmental action club right away, then participating in mountain top removal protests,  getting involved with the Women’s Resource Center and, most importantly, telling all my friends from back home how wrong they were about everything they did, from shopping at Wal-Mart, to driving around for FUN?!?. How dare they eat McDonalds, how dare they not question their sexuality, how dare they use Styrofoam?

Upon reflection I think I could refer to my attack on my high school friends as a heady case of self-righteousness, but at the time, I was appalled to think that I had ever been friends with such earth-raping, SUV driving, homophobic, capitalistic racists.

Looking back now at how I divided myself from the close friends I had, all I can say is that no matter what my opinions were, it was not worth it.  To ever shun a person because his or her belief is different from yours is  not only to increase narrow mindedness, but also to turn away a person who might have someday supported your cause.  Much like fire and brimstone save-your-soul-from-hell spouters that sometimes peruse downtown Asheville, anyone who chooses an issue over a human being is only building walls and increasing skepticism for the very issue being promoting.

I’ve got issues that I care about.  But as I graduate Warren Wilson College this May, the number one thing I will take with me, above any sustainability effort or social justice humdrum, is that I am fundamentally opposed to fundamentalism. I beg the WWC community, for the sake of being the change you wish to see, shut up about what’s wrong with the world, and go make some friends with somebody who’s not like you.


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