It’s time to make a difference

Off the Beat

People who even remotely know me undoubtedly recognize that I have a passion for sports. All 147 of my articles published at The Daily Californian have come from the world of sports, and while I don’t anticipate my career in journalism extending beyond college, I’m going to milk every last ounce of sports writing I have in me as long as I’m employed at the Daily Cal.

But even as I prepare for one of the biggest games I’ve had the privilege of covering this Saturday, I am inspired to step out of the sports world and finally write about something else.

I woke up Thursday morning and walked to my 8 a.m. public policy class knowing that my focus probably wasn’t going to be on Dr. Rosenthal’s lecture. In hindsight, I probably should have just stayed home as I opened up a livestream to listen to another doctor speak: Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.

A few weeks ago, I came across a breaking news article regarding President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. The piece detailed a California professor coming forward with a sexual assault allegation against Kavanaugh, dating back to when the two were in high school.

When I came across Ford’s name, I immediately called my parents. After all, this couldn’t be the same Christine Blasey who we had gotten dinner with just months prior. Simply known as Christine to me, she was the mother of my brother’s close friend and basketball teammate. She was the family friend who asked me about how my spring break had been, how my experience at Berkeley had been so far and if I thought Michigan was good enough to take down Villanova in the upcoming national championship game.

On Thursday morning, that same woman testified in front of a Senate Judiciary Committee, CNN, ABC, Fox News and countless other networks. She spoke out to me, you and millions around the world.

For a sports nerd who typically gets his daily dose of the political world for five seconds a day on Twitter, I was significantly impacted by Dr. Ford’s emotional opening speech. With strangers critiquing throughout my social media feed every little flaw she exhibited in her speech and composure, I was shocked at the amount of hatred that existed toward a woman whom my family considers a dear friend.

But this column isn’t about me, and I’d rather not talk about the “he said, she said, is there enough evidence” debate that is brewing in Washington right now. It’s about recognizing true bravery, and it’s a call to every one of my readers to be a hundredth of the person Dr. Ford is.

Dr. Ford’s testimony taught me a lot about political proceedings and the lasting effect sexual assault can have on mental health. But the thing that sticks with me the most is the clear-cut, unfortunate division that persists in our country today. Picking sides and picking apart each other is keeping our nation stagnant rather than moving forward. Why can’t people instead focus on protecting and fighting for the well-being of future generations?

Whether you stand with Dr. Ford or vehemently doubt her claims, I encourage you to be the change you wish to see in the world. Volunteer. Vote. Serve in your community. Help others regardless of their past mistakes or unfortunate circumstances. Bridge the gaps in this country to the point where left and right, blue and red aren’t a measure of one’s upbringing and outlook when it comes to politics. Be so good to one another that we no longer judge people based on their political preferences, but on their present and future actions.

Our generation can’t be perfect. But that doesn’t mean we can’t strive to be better every day.

To Dr. Ford: Just weeks ago, I knew you simply as a woman involved in her children’s athletic endeavors and passionate about meeting new faces. Today, I am fully convinced that you are one of the bravest people to have walked this planet. Win or lose, your inspiration spans generations, and your impact is felt by strangers and friends alike. It even motivated a sports junkie to step out of his comfort zone and write about politics for once.

To all of you who have taken the time to hear me out: Not all of us can be as brave as Christine Blasey Ford. But all of us can make a difference. We can help one another recognize the division that persists in our country. The next time we think about taking aim at others on a political thread, let’s think twice. I encourage you to give everything you’ve got to serving your community instead, and uplift rather than put down the faces around you.

As a sports reporter and editor, sports have been the only form of writing I’ve even thought about publishing both in high school and college. But every one of us has something to offer outside of our own realms. Just ask one of my favorite athletes of all time, Roberto Clemente, who famously declared: “Any time you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don’t, then you are wasting your time on Earth.”

It’s time to start making a difference, for the sake of each other and the well-being of our neighbors.

“Off the Beat” columns are written by Daily Cal staff members. Contact the opinion desk at [email protected] or follow us on Twitter @dailycalopinion.