The onset of a new year is always bittersweet. We frantically search for meaning in the successes and failures of the last twelve months, grouping them together as somehow indicative of what it meant to live in 2009. We assume with a rather arbitrary degree of optimism that a fresh change in the Roman calendar will accompany a comparably fresh revelation of insight.

Illustration by Sarah Stryker

This issue, then, deals with the paradox of renewal: our profound strides forward and the implications thereof, combined with the ever-present forces of antiquity that still linger as society waits impatiently for more earnest modernization. From politics, to religion, to technology, to culture, we grapple with a grating conflux of yesterday and today. It is a tug-of-war — and at times, an all-out brawl. Within these pages, we try to make sense of it.

For one, what are we to make of the New Jersey State Senate’s rejection of same-sex marriage, an initiative supported without reservation by vast majorities of young people irrespective of traditional ideological divides? Despite a formidable lobbying effort on the part of TCNJ’s activist core, Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Ewing) voted against marriage equality, reneging on earlier commitments she had made to LGBT rights groups.

Her tone-deafness is indicative of a stark generational fault line, and stung many of us in a way that few political issues could — but there is reason still for cautious optimism. That there was even a vote in the first place speaks loudly to our collective social progress. However trite it may sound, the long arc of history indeed bends toward justice. We can assert with subdued confidence that the banality of the opposition will soon subside in favor of rational inquiry and criticism.

And besides, whether the whims of the majority may thwart the rights of the minority has always been a question best handled by the judicial branch of government. Today, Ted Olson and David Boies, former legal adversaries and adherents to schools of jurisprudential thought that are ostensibly incompatible, have joined together in San Francisco federal court to challenge the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8, a voter-initiated referendum which prohibited same-sex marriages. Their case may well make it to the Supreme Court, which bodes well for national marriage equality — a sharp break from the incremental state-by-state approach that has dogged real progress for too long.

Consider another glimmer of hope: shortly after equality was rejected in New Jersey, medical marijuana was approved. Those in elected office who pontificated so vociferously on the supposed destructiveness of a psychoactive plant now must face the reality of its undisputed therapeutic value. Now the disillusioned youth, who rightly dismiss any anti-drug rhetoric spouted by those in positions of authority as worthless drivel, may gradually come to realize that public policy need not be completely removed from real life.

Change will happen, but it must first ferment from below. And without conscientious and insistent voices prodding it along, change will fail to manifest. Within these pages we hope to so prod, but also inform, and perhaps even entertain. Whatever you take away from The Perspective, we ask you to join us in reaching for a better tomorrow.


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