MARC EDWARDS: “Our species is really good at punishing people for doing the right thing,” he said. “We teach you to conform or you will be shunned and you will be shamed. For those willing to pay that price, it is really, really worth it.” 				    Hannah Tetzlaff photo
MARC EDWARDS: “Our species is really good at punishing people for doing the right thing,” he said. “We teach you to conform or you will be shunned and you will be shamed. For those willing to pay that price, it is really, really worth it.” Hannah Tetzlaff photo

     Ripon was treated to two particularly timely commencement speeches this spring.

     The first was delivered May 19 at Ripon College by Marc Edwards, the civil engineering professor who helped uncover the Flint, Mich. water crisis and whose research detected elevated lead levels in Washington, D.C.’s water supply.

     The second was given May 25 at Ripon High School by Principal Randy Hatlen.

     Both deserve more reflection than the five to eight minutes it took each speaker to deliver his message.

     We’ll discuss Edwards’ message today, and re-examine Hatlen’s wise words next week.

     Edwards warned against tribalism — the tendency to stake an ideological position and reflexively oppose any ideas that don’t conform to its values — over truth.

     With America so polarized these days, tribalism is rampant. ...

     Unfortunately, those little screens we keep in our pockets or the large ones at our desks inflame our tribal tinderboxes.

     Flippant Facebook posts, and the algorithms that keep us in touch with fellow tribalists, only encourage hanging with our own close-minded compatriots, truth be damned. ...

                                   — Tim Lyke

To read the entire editorial, see the June 13, 2019 edition of The Ripon Commonwealth Press.