Westmont Magazine It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
by President Stan D. Gaede ’68
As I’m writing this, we are knee-deep in the Master Plan process, with a variety of groups and commissions scrutinizing our updated plan. It’s a difficult moment for me since we are in the ninth inning and everything seems to be riding on the next few at bats. Of course, we don’t know that. This game could go into extra innings. In some ways, it already has. But whatever the case, it feels like a crucial moment to me.
At times like these, it’s easy to lose perspective. In fact, playing the game well means focusing all your energies on the task at hand. When the bases are loaded, you don’t want your batter humming “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.” Mr. Rogers is good, but perhaps it’s not the right mood for the moment.
Unfortunately, what often happens is that we revert to a mindset that perceives the opposition not as neighbors (“would you be mine?”) but as enemies. I came close to that mood the other day when I began thinking about what a special place Westmont is and how privileged we are to have an institution like Westmont in this community. Which is absolutely true. I’ve been around. I know the circumstances of many colleges and universities. I also know the kinds of students, faculty and staff that make up Westmont and what a precious resource they are for the community. I can’t imagine a better college to have in the neighborhood.
But the minute I entertain those thoughts, another contrarian notion streaks across my brain, perhaps inspired by Mr. Rogers himself. And that is how blessed Westmont is to be in this community. Indeed, I don’t think Westmont would be the small, high-quality, liberal arts college it is today without this setting in which God planted us. From the moment we landed here, it started us thinking about quality, not quantity. And the beauty of this setting not only inspired faculty and students, but invited them in. And once they were here, they were welcomed by neighbors and friends who supported and encouraged them every step of the way.
The process hasn’t been easy. And these moments aren’t easy. And yes, there are situations that we’d rather not be in. But the operative mood is neither a Pollyanna optimism nor enemy demonization. Rather, we need to face the facts. And the fact is, we’re good for each other. Westmont is good for this neighborhood, and this community has been very good for Westmont. And so, even though it’s the ninth inning, it turns out, we’re on the same team. Not by our own contrivance, but by virtue of the mercies and providence of God. Which means that Mr. Rogers is right. It is a beautiful day in the neighborhood, whether we know it or not. Knowing it — and bringing it about — is what this moment is all about. Keep us in your prayers.