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Be brave enough to care

| Wednesday, April 29, 2020

I care about a lot of things. Probably too many things. I have strong opinions from politics to whether the Oxford comma ought to be respected as a punctuation mark (it should).

At the beginning of this year, I decided to take all these opinions and write them down, so I became a columnist for The Observer. Reader, it’s been a ride.

I kicked off this brief adventure with a column about how apathetic the Notre Dame community can be, and I’ll end it on a similar note.

Far too many students refuse to do the work that goes into being informed, and I am a firm believer that being informed about something naturally leads to caring about something. And it’s easier than ever to get informed! If you want to get your news from Twitter, get your news from Twitter. Just make sure you source the information. If you get your news from The New York Times, that’s fine, too! The NYT will even send a morning or evening briefing right to your mailbox to catch you up on everything you missed. Give yourself five minutes each day to skim it. You’ll already know more than you did before. Download a news app and allow it to send you notifications. When you have a minute, glance at your lock screen and get caught up. It’s that easy!

There just isn’t an excuse anymore. Especially not when there’s a presidential election in a few months. Please, Notre Dame, start caring. That’s all I’ve been trying to say this year. Have I been picking particularly controversial topics to write about to get people to pay attention? Maybe! Do I regret it? No! Not even when that guy on Twitter told me I’d have been a Nazi in the ‘40s. Sometimes you have to make a few people angry to get others to care about something. Gotta break a few eggs and all that.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t see myself as the righteously informed warrior, leading people to the light. The truth is, I’m pissed off, and I’d like other people to be pissed off too. I’m just as angry as the people who write emails to me longer than my actual columns, even the guy who said he could bore me with a “piece-by-piece shredding” of my “lemming-like arguments,” but mercifully never did. Whew!

I’d be a hypocrite, though, if I didn’t admit that I like my critics more than the people who don’t care enough to form an opinion on any of the things I’ve written about. I even liked Steve! I admit, Steve, I didn’t read all (or even most) of your comments, but when I did they made me feel like I was doing something right. Though lately your comments haven’t been quite up to your usual standard – I hope you get back to normal before the next round of columnists, they’ll need it.

The truth is, I’ll take an angry, long (why are they always so long?), passionate email all about why I’m wrong than the deafening silence I get from most people at this institution. Maybe I’m a masochist. Maybe I just like the attention. I don’t know.

What I do know is that Notre Dame is a beautiful, wonderful, amazing place. It has its fair share of flaws, but I love it anyway. I’ve loved it since I was old enough to understand why my dad would yell at the TV in the fall. I’ve loved it since I first stepped foot on North quad. I loved Notre Dame when we went 12-1 my junior year, but I loved it just as much when we went 4-8 my freshman year. I love the rivalry between North Dining Hall and South, and I may love BP flag football more than my own family (the Babes will make it to the championship, mark my words).

And the people. God, I love the people. That’s what I’ll miss most. Anyone who’s been to this school knows what the word community means.

That’s why, for some reason, I still have faith that this community can learn to care. I know there are more of you who care what happens this November than those who don’t. I know those who care about the marginalized outnumber the apathetic. I know there are more of you here that want to fight for what they believe in than those who’d rather remain out of the loop.

I won’t flatter myself and pretend like anything I’ve written this year has changed the minds of people who passionately disagree with me. But I really hope I’ve made some people curious about what’s going on out there.

We’re living through history right now. There’s a pandemic sweeping the globe, unprecedented social and economic upheaval, and an upcoming presidential election. In 30 or 40 years when you think back to your 20s, how would you like to remember yourself? As a passive, unwilling participant in current events? Or an active, passionate role model for your beliefs? I’ll remember my time at Notre Dame as full of fun things like SYRs, football games and picnics on the quad, but I’m also proud to graduate as an informed young adult, ready to fight for the things I care about. Notre Dame prepared me for that, and it prepared you, too.

Mary Szromba is a senior majoring in philosophy and political science, and she’s never been wrong about anything in her entire life. Questions, comments and anonymous love letters can be directed to [email protected] or @_murrrrrr on Twitter.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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