OPINIONS

The new, new, new thing

Back in high school, my Latin teacher was fond of teaching us quotes from the old Romans. As with everything else in New England, they often seemed to have a certain stubbornly aspirational – perhaps even Victorian – flavor to them. Tempus fugit. Ad astra per aspera. Dum vida est, spes est. Aut vincere aut mori. (Time flies; through difficulty to the stars; when there is life there is hope; either to conquer or to die.)

After a while, these quotes felt a little worn, although our teachers were not at fault for that. Rather, we were so used to hearing the ideas that these quotes expressed because they had been impressed into us every day of our lives. We heard them from teachers in years past, saw them in society and its expectations (both admirable and not so admirable) and felt an ineffable but nevertheless continuing sense that there was a certain way to live life and that going forward we would inexorably adhere to it. The fact that these quotes had been written in Latin only reinforced this fact: as they constantly proved, we have been making motivational quotations for thousands of years. Needless to say, we will continue to make them. Perfection enthralls us; hope sustains us; glory is the stuff of our dreams.

I arrived at the Opinions Section preaching the same kind of aspirations that humans have preached for centuries. Needless to say, there are things I have done well; there are other things I regret. I will not bore you with a recap of my time here; let it suffice to say that I have enjoyed playing Mercury for the last five months.

I have massively enjoyed my time at Opinions. Like Mercury, the divine messenger of Roman myth, I’ve had the opportunity to sit at the crossroads of the Stanford community, listening to people and their questions, their issues, their loves and their aspirations. There have been things I wish I had never had to hear, but these are part and parcel of the human condition, and we all need to hear them. There have also been things I am glad to have helped publicize, writers that I have been honored to work with and ideas brought to life by others that I wish I had created. Contrary to popular belief, responsibility does seem to inspire a certain humility, at least in this case.

The Opinions Section has been a good thing for me, and I will forever be grateful to it. But I nevertheless feel that it’s time to move on.

***

I’ll be sticking around, of course: I did say that I would only be leaving sports “for the time being,” after all, and I cannot wait for football season to return. But as with my last farewell, I should first thank a community that has resolutely supported me throughout my time here – my columnists, my indefatigable staffers Kayla and Vihan and all the people I see here every day.

I didn’t come to Stanford expecting to write for The Daily. To be honest, I believed that I’d never end up working here in any serious capacity. When I first arrived on campus, I only signed up to write news articles on a very, very, very occasional basis, and I took this role not because of my minute contributions to News but because here, at The Daily, I found a group of people that I enjoyed spending time with.

Do-Hyoung Park, whose own farewell of sorts also ran recently, is right: there’s not much inherent to the job itself that justifies the sort of sacrifices we make to be here. Everybody in the newsroom is joined in frenetic days and sleepless nights because we have collectively made the decision to have this institution define our Stanford experiences. And everybody is here, too, because we enjoy the work that we do – we enjoy being at the campus crossroads. If I may pump up my own section for a second, I believe that Opinions is uniquely placed to achieve that.

I’ll still be writing for Opinions, which will be in good hands with Nick Ahamed at the helm going forward. Next year, as I embrace a bigger writing role, I’m glad to have the chance to travel and see the country. I’m also excited to keep on working with a wonderful staff – George, Jana, Joey, Ashley, Do, Jordan, Cameron, Michael, Dylan, David and Vihan – and special thanks to Vihan, who like me will be making the trip back from Opinions to Sports. But enough shout-outs for now.

We’re all here for the people – the people within our walls, and the people outside of them as well. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

***

This is my last act as Managing Editor of Opinions at The Stanford Daily, and as with all last acts, there must be a certain retrospective element to a goodbye – even if this isn’t quite a goodbye. We aspire to a lot here, and we know full well that we often won’t fulfill these dreams. Obviously, when we fail, that failure is disappointing. But I remain convinced that the dream in and of itself is why we are here.

Aspirations seek to embrace eternity. But aspirations also become eternity. Our dreams will last, and that is good enough. Humans seek eternity, whether in achievement or in memory, and although opinions are by definition transient – since the ideas and issues we cover change and will always change – the institution of the Opinions Section is most definitely not. As with Ted Williams, as with football, as with everything in life itself, even in transience we can chase posterity, brilliance and beauty. Perhaps that makes sense: we admire posterity because, as transient beings, posterity in all of its aspirational majesty is something that we can only dream of.

If it is so difficult to achieve something with the magnitude of eternity – which is the nature of the imperfectly beautiful world in which we live – then in doing so, we must imagine, the world will never be the same. One more Latin quote for you, then – invoking not the Romans but one of their greatest successors, an artist that only lived for a short while but whose legacy has stood the test of time.

Ille hic est Raffael, timuit quo sospite vinci, rerum magna parens et moriente mori, meaning: “Here lies that famous Raphael, by whom Nature feared to be conquered while he lived, and when he was dying, feared herself to die.”

That’s an aspiration we can look up to. Thank you very much.

 

Winston Shi

Managing Editor of Opinions, Volume 245

 

Contact Winston Shi at wshi94@stanford.edu.

About Winston Shi

Winston Shi is an opinions columnist and senior staff writer for The Stanford Daily and was the Managing Editor of Opinions for Volume 245 (February-June 2014). He also sits on The Daily's Editorial Board. Previously, he worked at The Daily as a staff writer for the sports section. He is a junior from Thousand Oaks, California and majors in history. In his free time, he likes to read, travel and write about himself in the third person. Contact him at wshi94@stanford.edu.