Trusting Your Wisdom, Election 2020

Dear Members of the Sweet Briar Community,

I write you today with two simple messages.

First, please vote tomorrow, if you have not already done so. This election is likely to be one of the most consequential in our lifetime, and it is critical that you exercise your citizenly rights and duties through this simple but important action. Your vote makes a difference. Voter by voter, turnout has been exceptional, which is why the nation is on course to surpass 150 million votes for the first time in our history, with some 90 million people already casting ballots.

Second, understand that the vote count will take time. This is an exciting but also perilous time. Following the election there will be enormous confusion and contentiousness. There will be legal challenges, as there have already been in some states, regarding early voting and absentee ballots. There will be unrest, coalescing around a number of issues, including racial justice. There will be questions, some profound, about the viability of our electoral system.

Much of the chaos and distrust will be sowed on social media. It will not only be by people who deliberately plant disinformation and “alternate facts,” but by well-intended people who are reacting to bits and pieces of information that land on their phones and computers through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other platforms. Our nation’s leaders, to whom we look up, may themselves be disseminating misleading information.

For our students in particular, I trust that you will sift through the avalanche of information thoughtfully and dispassionately. You always want to pay attention to evidence: What is the evidence for the assertions you read? Your journey at Sweet Briar, maturing as a thinking person, is about scrutinizing information, and sorting it into knowledge – and traveling from knowledge, into wisdom.

I have confidence in your wisdom, and in your ability to put yourself in another’s shoes, and to always respect political differences in the very diverse country that is ours.

All the best to you,
Meredith Woo