I have a specific memory from around a dozen or fifteen years back, walking up towards Dutch Quad, when I stopped by a picnic table chained to a tree where two students were having a political argument about Israel. Both students came with some frequency to Shabbos House. One had very strong views that were apparently inacceptable or beyond the pale for some regulars at Shabbos House, and this second student, a friend of his, was trying to patiently mollify his friend and encourage him to remain part of the Jewish campus community even if his views on Israel were starkly different than others.
Fast forward a dozen years (or so). Israel again is responding to an ongoing terrorist threat to its civilian population and again people fall on different sides of spectrum of passionate and vocal opinion. The aforementioned student, passionate and articulate, pops up in my FB newsfeed this week. I read what he posted and wrote and did a double-take. His positions today are nearly diametrically opposed to his opinions duringhis college years. Total 180. Same passion, same well-articulated expression, same bold inner strength, but totally different take, seeing it from a very different perspective.
What changed? A lot happens in a decade. I have no idea what changed in his life, his mindset, his experiences. But this I do know, people do change. Students and alumni surprise and shock us all the time. Having been on campus for 17 years, we are blessed (and cursed) to witness so much personal growth, changing trends and styles and generational-shifts. Never mind the rapid change of technology, it is people changes that interest us most. Not all change is this dramatic, not all change is radical and intense, nor should it always be. Often it is the small steps of incremental change that is more lasting, internalized and meaningful.