“Friendship had other attractions which were very important to me – we could talk and laugh – help each other in small ways – reading some books together and plucking out phrases – going places together – sometimes we would be quite serious with one another – other times we could act the fool together. When we argued with each other it was not a bitter argument but like the kind you have with yourself…which made our teaching and learning and our usual harmony with each other more meaningful. Each of us had something to learn, some correction to undergo, from the other – and we understood that.”– Saint Augustine, Confessions
A Commitment to Civic Friendship
Polarization—whether over politics, religion, or other divides—is paralyzing our society. Many universities aren’t helping. From either direction of the spectrum, students feel pressure to believe what they’re told and to avoid saying what they really think. Assumption’s vision is different.
Our commitment to civic friendship includes our belief that ideas should be exchanged openly and disagreements should be voiced respectfully. It’s also about something different. Friends disagree with each other. They learn from each other. They challenge each other—and they embrace the opportunity and responsibility to do so precisely because they respect one another.
At Assumption, we welcome challenge and respectful dispute. That’s the tradition of Catholic universities dating to their formation in the Middle Ages. In our tradition of learning, deeply informed by our Augustinian roots, we pursue truth by giving reasons and listen with open minds and hearts to the reasons others give us.
That entails a profound commitment to the essential virtues associated with learning: the courage to challenge conventional wisdom and to submit our ideas to rigorous examination; the humility to believe none of us possesses the whole truth and we therefore all can learn from one another; and the generosity to assume those espousing ideas different from our own share our commitment to seeking truth and therefore deserve a respectful hearing.
President Greg Weiner