A note from the Editor…

2017: The year we’ve all been waiting for.

With this new year comes a peaceful transition of power in the Basement Medicine editorship. I only hope that I can do the title justice.

Many people agree that 2016 could have gone better. Brexit, the refugee crisis, the entire United States presidential election . . . The list of political debacles could go on, not to mention the monstrous list of beloved celebrity deaths.

The arbitrary number assigned to an arbitrary set of months that denotes a certain set of days as one piece of our time-keeping cycle probably shouldn’t be blamed for our societal problems, but moving into a new piece of our time-keeping is as good a reason as any to take a good look at where we are now.

Living in times of great political upheaval is not usually what one might consider “fun,” but I have frequently found myself turning to the wisdom of Gandalf the Grey in “The Fellowship of the Ring” after Frodo wishes that the events of the story had not happened in his time: “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

Although we might like to sit back and enjoy our lives in peace and quiet like the inhabitants of the Shire, times of great change give us the chance to exercise our individual powers and consciences. These times allow us make our voices heard and be a force for good in our communities.

So many protests have occurred in the last couple of weeks that I can barely keep track of them: the Women’s marches all over the world, the “dance party” outside of Mike Pence’s home to celebrate LGBTQ+ rights, the taxi strike outside of the JFK airport and numerous peaceful gatherings in simple protest of Trump’s presidency. As cliché as it might seem, a thousand voices really do make a difference in a way that one voice cannot. When we come together, we are powerful.

At a local level, change is even easier to accomplish. I stopped by a table in the Stearns Fireplace Lounge one day to sign a petition saying that I agree that the VSC needs more funding and was told that even one phone call to your senator or representative can be a catalyst for change in a state as small as ours. If you have an opinion but don’t feel like you can do anything about it, tell someone who can. No matter how small you think you are, you can make a difference.

As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “To ignore evil is to become accomplice to it.” While I often hesitate to use the word “evil” — both because it is vague and because I rarely think things are so black and white as to be purely “good” or “evil” — in this instance, I would be hard-pressed to think of something more appropriate.

Injustice, ignorance, intolerance, hatred and fear run amok in this new world we have become accomplices to, and too many people ignore things that they believe are not their problem. Now, more than ever before in my lifetime, we must put aside our minor differences and fight for the larger values that so many of us hear constantly but don’t necessarily think enough about: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The hypocrisy of those who spout such values but then turn around and decide who is allowed to pursue them frustrates me. Our nation is dividing further with each new minority that becomes outcast or is punished for the actions of a few, and those of us who believe that this is wrong have an obligation to step up and say something about it.

Democracy becomes tyranny when the powerful many begin to ignore the needs of the suffering few, because those suffering few don’t have the numbers to tip the scales of a purely democratic vote. If we truly believe in liberty for all, we must be willing to fight for it even when our own personal liberties are not the ones on the line. It is very easy to think that something isn’t a problem when it doesn’t affect you; staying informed about the things that are happening around you is a responsibility that too many people fail to take seriously. Even I am guilty of ignoring the news when I find myself overwhelmed by my own problems, and it is an understandable dilemma to have, but sometimes the needs of those around us are too important to ignore.

This is where the media plays a critical role. When problems go unreported and undocumented, they also go unsolved. Spreading the word about what is happening to places where it might not be so evident is vital in making sure that the people who care are aware enough to do something about it. As citizens, it is incredibly important that we absorb as many different sources of news as we can, whether we agree with it or not. We must stay informed, even when it becomes so easy to give up hope and despair that the world will ever change.

2017: The year that will decide the future of our country; the year that will show us all what kind of stuff we’re really made of; the year that we still have the power to change. Maybe last year wasn’t so great and maybe we made some decisions that we wish we could take back, but now it’s time to move on. That year is over, completed and ready to become part of our history. This year, 2017, is a new opportunity for everyone, and I hope that we all take that opportunity to stand up for the the things that we believe in and do the things we never thought we could do. Maybe when it comes time to welcome 2018, we’ll be able to look back and say that, despite a rocky start, 2017 was a year that had some good stuff in it after all.

— Cayla Fronhofer, Editor-in-Chief