Westmont Magazine Approaching Conflict as a Christian
Cade Petrie ’22 witnessed firsthand what it means to hold government accountable when he conducted research and served as the ghostwriter of an article for the Independence Institute. The report argued that the Colorado State Legislature was abusing its tax code to collect additional revenue. The Washington Examiner soon picked up the story.
Last summer, Cade interned with the Institute, a free-market think tank in Denver. He participated in the Future Leaders program and worked in the Fiscal Policy Center where he researched, wrote news and opinion pieces and explored how policies affect people.
“My favorite part was being a watchdog in some ways and holding the government accountable,” Cade says. “They’re supposed to be serving us. If they’re abusing their power... people with expertise need to get that news out and review the laws and the data to find the discrepancies.”
Cade says he chose to study political science at Westmont because he hates politics. “Our political system is messed up in many ways,” he says. “Politics is one of the main ways we can solve the problems facing our society... it’s a big piece of human life and can become a positive force if wielded properly.”
Westmont has given Cade a new perspective on how to integrate his faith in the political arena. “I saw politics and political dealings as a battle,” he says. “But I’ve come to realize there’s more space for grace and negotiating and more Christian ways of approaching conflict... [and] society will be better served.”
Cade didn’t think about attending Westmont until he received a link to an application form in his email. He decided to click on it and soon participated in a weekend for admitted students. He remembers watching the sun set over the ocean while driving on Eucalyptus Hill Road. He made the decision to enroll while eating Chinese food with his father in downtown Santa Barbara. “I took one bite of chicken fried rice, looked at my dad, and while my mouth was still full, I said, ‘I’m going to Westmont.’”
In spring 2020, Cade studied abroad with Westmont in Cairo, where he volunteered teaching English to refugees, and formed some of his closest relationships. The experience grew his passion for holding government accountable and helping the vulnerable as he witnessed the ways Egypt’s bureaucracy oppressed its refugee population. “I realized that there’s so much vulnerability for those unattached to a political body,” he says. “Working with refugees reinforced that vulnerable people exist, even if we don’t see them... and that I should do something.”
Cade has found a community at Westmont. “I think the college attracts... the people who are supposed to be here... for the community and for the world,” he says. “The best friendships of my life have been formed at Westmont — not just friendships, but also relationships and mentorships with professors and other people.” Jim Wright, co-leader of the Cairo trip, has been one of these mentors. “He freely offers wisdom,” Cade says. “You can have honest conversations with him.”
Cade hopes to get a position with an international Christian non-profit organization where he can continue to hold government accountable and care for vulnerable members of society. He is especially passionate about working against human trafficking with an organization like the International Justice Mission.