Veritas is the logo of Harvard. Its meaning is “truth”.
What is truth? Could it be that it is the convergence to a point from different directions and planes; a traveler through space and time; the weaving in and out of needlepoints that evolve stories depicted in a tapestry?
The majestic tree stood resilient, with its gnarled roots and knotted trunk. Its boughs were heavy with magnolia buds and waxen leaves. This tree will not be moved, unless it fell to blows of external power – mechanical or through an act of nature. This tree is truthful.
October 9th, 2019 was the 50th anniversary of The Harvard Independent newspaper. It is the second newspaper of Harvard, second in its inception to The Harvard Crimson. The first president of The Harvard Independent Morris Abram Jr., gave a remarkable speech that had three parts: a recognition of the architects and builders of the newspaper; remembrance of the good times and hard times; finally a plea to build a new and permanent home for the staff of the paper. Morris recounted how the idea of a second newspaper in Harvard was formulated on a napkin in the cafeteria between himself and Mark Shields, a senior, while Morris was a sophomore. Between the two men they recognized the oxymoron of what they had: • no funding • no experience or idea about starting or running a weekly newspaper • no advertising • no staff – All these combined was a big laugh. “Ha! But we’re still gonna do it” kind of attitude.
The two men had a lot of youthful dreams fueled with energy, humor, boldness and above all – a passion for the truth. In Morris Abram Jr.’s words, “If one paper is good then two is better”, this was the impulse that provided the forum for expression of all views. Past contributors to The Harvard Independent included luminaries such as: Samuel Huntington (Historian), David Riesman (Sociologist) and Noam Chomsky (Linguist/Political Philosopher).
“I” recognize that truth is an unfolding, like a rose opening each petal in due time. The whole truth and nothing but the truth is a process of awakening as the fog of sleep lifts; and the lens of bias is stripped away.
Through persistence and immunity to resistance, The Harvard Independent has thrived for 50 years. I imagine that one day, LAFPI will also be celebrating its 50th anniversary with the founding members and future staff raising a toast together – to recognize the blood, sweat and tears that is drawn from the artist to manifest the human condition on-stage and off-stage. Jennie Webb courageously brought us together as a community of writers who has made the public aware of the gender parity issue in theater. She awakened in us that we are empowered. We can’t wait any longer to be granted the light to shine upon us. We are light in ourselves. Let us shine.
LAFPI started with Jennie Webb and its original members gathered in a darkly lit house in Topanga Canyon. Outside, it was gloomy and raining, but inside, together, we huddled and shared stories, warmed by the communion of minds and hearts. We sensed being part of something bigger than our individual selves. It was for the cause of expressing our truth. After that day, were follow-up meetings with Jennie coaxing or delegating jobs as “instigators”, “editor”, “website architect”… AND we had LAFPI badges to distribute to theatres to spread the word about who we were and what we were about.
The tree observes and absorbs everything under the sun and below the ground. I think with my heart and feel with my brain. This slows me down from jumping to conclusions to make space for growth, because truth is not stagnant. It is not static, but it flows dynamically, evolving yet rooted to its source.
The current staff of The Harvard Independent continue with this new Harvard tradition of a newspaper that is dedicated to publishing work that could be eye-brow raising and bold. The Anniversary issue published, “66 Years of Political Integrity – an Interview with Professor Harvey Mansfield”, known as the “last conservative Professor” on campus. The interview covered topics of: affirmative action, the role and place of women and feminism within the college, partisanship among the Professors and political correctness.
LAFPI is also a new tradition. We serve the community by our stories that turn over every rock to see what lies beneath; and perhaps even break rocks to determine what stuff it is made of. I’ve had my imagination intrigued with some of the most creative ideas I’ve seen on stage that were produced, written, directed and supported by women. But we’re not exclusive to only women anymore. I’ve noticed men coming out to our Christmas shindig at Sam French. We’re gaining tracks of followers and members – one tie at a time till we have a railroad from here to the East Coast!
The Harvard Independent is fondly spoken of by both the old and new members a home away from home. It was home because it was comfortable. I imagine that the sense of comfort comes from being welcome for being who you are. It is what you make of it. The only mold there is is the breaking of existing molds which makes space for evolution. This newspaper has been a launching pad for individuals who continued to have successful careers in journalism (writers for The Washington Post, New York Times, NPR and others) and other paths.
LAFPI continues to nurture seasoned and amateur female writers who need a home to express their stories in drama form, blogging, and above all having a community of writers with the understanding that we recognize each other as worthy.
After all, who do not look to the stars and wonder:
D’ Ou’ venon-nous? Que sommes-nous? Qu’ allons-nous?
Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?
“In searching for ourselves and a vision, we find greater meaning in all things. It is “art of enduring interest”, that addresses these questions. – Morris Abram Jr. (Class of 1971)
Reflecting upon the stature of the tree, it persists. It evolves each season, another ring to add to its solid girth. If I think I know the truth, then I recognize that I am wrong in my knowing. The tree rises above all this knowing by its being. Being is a process. Being is truthful.