James Lacefield: A warm farewell to The Crier


James with a snowshoe hare he shot. (Courtesy / James Lacefield)

James Lacefield, Opinion Editor Emeritus

I have never been any good at saying goodbye, but since this is the last issue of the Crier in which I will be writing, I feel it necessary to say something to that effect. It has been an honor working with the Crier staff to create content for you, our readers. Now,  I hope that you will indulge me one last time, and read my ramblings about some of the things I have learned here at Saint Anselm College.

It is a personal goal of mine to not mention the Merrimack River, hunting, or the word “Anselmian” during this brief article, since those topics have certainly been beaten to death in the pages of the Crier. But, since I have already broken that rule, I might as well get in some parting shots. (And thus concludes lesson one; don’t take yourself, or your goals, too seriously, they are bound to change).

The Merrimack is the lifeblood of southern New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts, where I have spent my entire life to this point. On its banks have sprouted farms, townships, mills and cities, and from those cities some of the finest academic institutions in the region. It’s safe to say we would not even be here at Saint Anselm if it were not for the Merrimack and the City of Manchester. So every time you cross the river to get to downtown or I93, take a moment to remember the river, from its humble beginnings in the streams and snowmelt of the White Mountains, straight through the historic foundations of Manchester, and out to the Atlantic in a torrent of brackish might at Plum Island. (Lesson two, you are going somewhere great, but where you’ve come from and where you are now are just as important).

Hunting has, of course, taught me many things. For instance, how to identify different types of birds, or how to walk quietly in the woods, how to dress for our erratic winter weather when you’re miles from the nearest road, or how to be both patient and alert at the same time. More importantly, however, I have learned to appreciate the world around me. We are not a single moment in time, nor is anything temporary. A deer track in the mud may tell of a deer that is miles, or even days, ahead of you. The sound of squirrel chattering carries much farther than the sight of the squirrel itself. Even our own actions remain for far longer than we intend them, evidenced by the countless plastic bottles and beer cans I see while hunting in what I thought were remote places. The world judges us not by the content of our minds, but by the environment created around us. (Lesson three, everything you do, do it with care and attention, because your choices will impact the entire world in one way or another).

And finally, we come to what it means to be Anselmian. This word is thrown around a lot in the Crier, the endless emails we all seem to get, and Conversatio papers. But what actually is an Anselmian? I like to think that Anselmians are any and all who walk through this truly beautiful campus, regardless of their past, their choices, their lifestyle, or their beliefs. I have met so many individuals from such a diverse array of backgrounds in my time here at Saint Anselm that it is honestly disorienting. But that true north to which one’s moral compass must point is the fact that every individual I have met here is an Anselmian. I know we cover a lot of difficult topics here in the Crier, and sometimes these issues are incredibly divisive. When people or groups are called out for their political leanings, personal choices, or innate personalities, it can be a challenge to overcome the fear of encountering something as disorienting as college. However, we must remember that we are one community, indivisible in our Anselmian nature, whatever that word may mean. (Lesson four, hate, fear, discrimination, and bigotry have no place at Saint Anselm College, or anywhere else for that matter, because we always have been, and always will be, one human community).

With that, I must extend my sincerest thanks to the Crier, our readers, and all of Saint Anselm College. Farewell.