Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 28, 2013 23:02
The “Davidson Bubble” commonly refers to the notion, or feeling that Davidson College is in one or many ways disconnected and shielded from the events that transpire outside it.
The “Davidson Bubble” commonly refers to the notion, or feeling that Davidson College is in one or many ways disconnected and shielded from the events that transpire outside it. To many students, the week of February 10 to February 17 was the first colloquial “hell-week” of the semester, which meant a retreat into the bubble for the sake of fulfilling academic obligations. Meanwhile, the world and everything in it spun madly on around us, despite our ignorance.
The aforementioned week, February 10 to February 17, was a terrifying, bizarre, thought provoking, record breaking, emotionally vacillating, and yes – historic – week. On Sunday, Danica Patrick became the first woman to win a pole award, at the Daytona 500 no less.
On Friday, the same day that asteroid DA-2012 came within satellite distance of earth, a meteor blast injured thousands in Russia.
On Thursday, 401(k)’s hit record highs, the Carnaval Triumph reached port after 5 days adrift without power, and record-breaking legless Olympian Oscar Pistorius was charged with murder.
On Tuesday, the manhunt for Christopher Dorner reached its fiery conclusion and President Obama gave the first State of the Union address of his second term.
And finally, on Monday, the same day that North Korea tested its third and largest nuclear device, Pope Benedict XVI became the first pope to resign since Pope Gregory XII in 1415.
At first glance, these may seem like catchy news headlines designed to attract an audience. But I think it is important to consider the implications of the events that have transpired in the past week. In particular, I want to draw attention to the historic considerations of North Korea’s nuclear test taking place on the same day as the Pope’s resignation.
Pope Benedict XVI will retire on February 28, 2013, making him the first pope to do so in 598 years. Even more, he will be the first pope to voluntarily resign in 719 years. In a statement released on February 11, the 85-year old pope cited a “lack of strength of body and mind” as rationale for his decision.
His resignation comes at a time that many are referring to as a “crossroads” in the Church, which appears to be engaged in a losing battle with time and progress.
Also, on February 11th of this month, North Korea conducted its third nuclear device test. This was the first device tested under the leadership of Kim Jong-un, who was declared supreme leader in December of 2011 following the death of his father.
This, along with Iranian attempts to enrich uranium, serves as a reminder that we still live in a world threatened and maintained by the presence of nuclear weapons.
North Korea’s nuclear test provides a stark foil when placed in context with the historical significance of the pope’s resignation.
The last time a pope resigned was 1415, seventy-seven years before Columbus even sailed to the new world. Now, in 2013, the pope is resigning during a time that has witnessed humans sending probes to the farthest reaches of our solar system.
North Korea’s nuclear test coinciding with the pope’s resignation serves as a prominent reminder to all of us just how far we have come as a species in the past few centuries. And surely, it invites us to further consider the role that religion plays in a scientifically advancing world. How does a pope reconcile modern science and a belief system that existed for centuries prior to its existence? While Pope Gregory XII’s resignation came along with the resolution of the Western Schism, the schism between science and religion may prove irreparable. Only the sands of time will tell.
The struggle between science and religion is not a new or revolutionary concept, and by no means do I attempt to fully discuss the issue here.
Minds more gifted than mine have, and will continue to debate the issue at length. But the events of February 11 certainly help to elucidate important historical considerations and a chronological context for the issue. In fact, the past week was full of important events that warrant further consideration and depth of conversation. What is the economic significance of record 401(k) values? What does Danica Patrick’s victory mean not just for women in NASCAR, but women’s athletics as a whole? What is being done to prevent the risk of lethal asteroid and meteor impacts?
Each of us must be individually responsible for not just staying informed about day-to-day events, but for considering, fleshing out, and discussion the significance of these events. Access to a Davidson education is a wonderful blessing – we have access to so much information here that goes beyond academic purposes. But part of our education consists of being responsible for the attainment of knowledge outside of the “Davidson Bubble” as well.
We were tremendously lucky to be born during a time when we can employ historicity, that is, to quite literally consider history as it is being made like no other generation has ever been able to do.
Nick Dugas ’15 is undeclared from North Oaks, MN. Contact him at email@example.com
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