November 15, 2016
It started with a slowly hit ground ball off the bat of Michael Martinez. A charging Kris Bryant sprinted in from third base and reached down to grab the slow roller with his glove. Bryant quickly released his throw just as his back foot, and the 108-year championship drought of the Chicago Cubs, slipped away on the evening on Nov. 2 at Progressive Field. As the ball reached Anthony Rizzo’s glove, everyone’s least favorite announcer, mine included, exuberantly proclaimed, “The Chicago Cubs are World Series champions.”
For the first several minutes after my favorite sports team, the team I have followed and loved since as early as I can remember, won the World Series, I stood in disbelief. A million thoughts raced through my mind. I began to recall all the great memories this team has provided me with throughout my life as well as the many tough memories. Being a diehard Cubs fan has not been easy. There have been many heartbreaks over the years, and I’ve only been around for 21 of them. But, the Cubs’ successes these past two seasons have made every second of it worthwhile. After the feeling of disbelief began to fade, I turned to my dad. With a tear, maybe two, rolling down my eye, I looked at him and said, “They did it dad. They finally did it.” This was a moment I will never forget.
The next two days were probably the happiest days of my life. The morning after, I went down to Wrigley. I have never felt a more incredible sense of unity. Cubs fans lined the streets of Clark and Addison, high-fiving and hugging just about anyone in sight. People throughout the city donned their Cubs gear in support of the Cubs’ great accomplishment.
After a morning of celebration, I came to campus for my afternoon class. Similar to downtown Chicago, I have never seen our great campus more joyful and united. Students I encountered had a smile on their face. The beautiful fall day, paired with a Cubs World Series, had spread happiness throughout the university. The next morning was a morning Cubs fans have waited 108 years for, a World Series victory parade. Never have I seen our great city happier. Not only that, I was delighted to see how many students from Dominican were enjoying the celebration. To share my feelings of joy with so many of my peers and friends is something I will also never forget.
Fast forward five days later and I saw a campus of students, faculty and staff that were eager, yet anxious, for the night ahead. The biggest night in American politics was upon us. I sat in my afternoon class that day, the same one I attended five days earlier, with a much more serious discussion at hand. The course, rooted in Political Science, focuses on the legislative process in American politics. On that day, we shifted our focus from the House of Representatives to the presidential election. We looked over various election prediction models, all of which had Hillary Clinton winning easily. After seeing all the data, we joked about what would be next for Donald Trump and the Republican party. As I left school that evening, I saw students in the Social Hall filling out electoral prediction maps, awaiting the first calls from a variety of TV networks. As the night progressed, the results of the evening started to become more and more apparent. At around 10 p.m., sometime after Ohio was called for Trump, I knew that it was only a matter of time before he became our next president-elect.
Few times have I woke up in my life and thought to myself, “The world feels like a different place today.” The morning of Nov. 9 felt like a different world to me. As a came onto campus that morning, I immediately encountered looks of sadness, sorrow and despair. I noticed several students brought to tears by the previous evening’s results. It just didn’t feel real. The atmosphere of my two classes that day was incredibly somber. My professors tried to lighten the concerns, but it was to no avail for many students. The next day went in a similar pattern. I sat in my advanced journalism course and saw several students brought to tears as we discussed what had happened. It broke my heart to see fellow peers, all of whom I consider my friends, brought to tears because of their fears. These were two of the hardest days of my life.
My thoughts have never been more in disarray. Hearing the concerns of my classmates made me realize that I, as a white male, will never be able to understand the fears that some students currently have. This was a hard realization to come to because I knew that there was not much I could do to help. One thing I can offer is some perspective.
As a political science major, I consider myself to have a decent understanding of the American government. That being said, I can urge students to lighten their fears domestically. Our country was founded on the principle that no single branch of government should have unlimited power. The U.S. government is designed with a series of checks and balances, meant to ensure that political power is not concentrated in the hands of specific individuals or groups. In my own opinion, the true power in American politics lies in Congress and the power of the president is overrated. As one of my political science professors once said, “the institution is more important than the person behind it”. Internationally, there is a bit more to be concerned about. The personality of our president does matter in international relations and presidential actions can matter much more here. However, we must try and be optimistic and believe that Trump will build a cabinet that has much more experience in international affairs than he does.
After attempting to view the political future of our country in a more rational sense, one thing that both myself and others can offer is our prayers and our hopes. As a practicing Catholic, I am a firm believer in one of the greatest principles that was bestowed upon me: to love and pray for others. That’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’m going to pray for my family, my classmates and peers and for our leaders, with the hope that I can be the best, most inclusive and loving person I can be. It is my greatest hope that one day we all look back on these difficult times and say that they made us a stronger and more united as a nation.