Oregon State University community members,
The horrific events of the past week in this country should compel each of us to reflect on where we are as a community, nation and global society. Such violence also should prompt us to consider how we might individually address issues that divide us. Moreover, what we have witnessed nationally should drive us to ponder what our respective roles are in creating a better future for our children, our grandchildren and ourselves in order to carry forward our values and aspirations for the nation and the world.
Next week, many of us will be voting in local, state, and federal mid-term elections. I urge every registered voter to go to the polls and express their preferences, and if you are eligible and can still register to vote, I urge you to register now and vote.
Political pundits in the United States tell us that mid-term elections typically are not about what we hope for or seek to improve, but are about voting against what we do not like or even hate. In contrast, I ask those who can participate in the upcoming election to make an affirmative declaration through your vote that will advance the beliefs, values and common humanity that bind us together. Before voting, scrutinize the candidates and ballot measures to assure that your vote will seek to advance collaboration; address and solve social and economic problems; serve the needs and interests of our broader community; and promote a more just, inclusive and sustainable future for ourselves and future generations.
Oregon State University is truly a diverse community welcoming students, staff and faculty from every corner of the world. Beyond the role and importance of voting, each of us must take on a perspective in our own lives to serve and improve the broader community. We can start by talking – and listening – to the person next to us. I urge each of us to get out of our own comfort zone and find out why others are sad, lonely or even angry. Use social media to tell friends and family members that you love them. Catch up with those who have drifted out of your life. Share your talents with others. Be a role model for young people, or, your peers. Reach out and help others achieve their dreams.
Oregon State alumnus Harley Jessup gave a wonderful commencement address to our graduates last June in which he noted that it is the imperfections in people and places that we remember and cherish most. At this time in America and our world, I recall that Harley concluded his commencement address by encouraging graduates to “take the time to appreciate the imperfections in life - in yourself and in others. That is where the beauty lies.”
I hope for that kind of commitment from each of us.

Edward J. Ray