Time to Think in the Midst of High Passions

By Terry Paulson

In the midst of protests and counter-protests, emotions are high on all sides. Acts of violence and destruction are occurring on a far too frequent basis. People are wondering what to do.

When a statue of Robert E. Lee on the campus of Durham’s Duke University was vandalized in the school chapel. University president Vincent E. Price removed the statue to a safe location to protect the integrity of Duke Chapel, to protect the statue, and to protect those who visit Duke Chapel,

In explaining his actions and his reasoning, Price published a letter to the university community. His wise and calm words and tone are to be honored and shared. Price writes:

“The removal also presents an opportunity for us to learn and heal. The statue will be preserved so that students can study Duke’s complex past and take part in a more inclusive future. Wednesday night’s act of vandalism made clear that the turmoil and turbulence of recent months do not stop at Duke’s gates. We have a responsibility to come together as a community to determine how we can respond to this unrest in a way that demonstrates our firm commitment to justice, not discrimination; to civil protest, not violence; to authentic dialogue, not rhetoric; and to empathy, not hatred.”

Price promises to appoint a commission of community leaders, students and faculty to study the best course of action. In short, he instituted he course of action we could all learn from. In heated moments, there is value in taking a time out–time to cool down and take a deliberate look at a contentious issue.

It would be wise for more of our national and state leaders to use his approach.