American flags decorate the front doors of Texas A&M University-San Antonio during the mayoral forum. Photo by Scott Ball.
American flags adorn the front doors of Texas A&M University-San Antonio. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

What is it that makes coals, grimy little chunks of the ancient life, into diamonds? Anyone unfamiliar with the science involved has every right to be confused by the notion.

To take a substance that rubs its ink onto the people who mine it, and slowly taints the lungs of those who are in its close proximity, and know that it has the potential to become a gem so precious people use it to propose the idea of eternal love and dedication to each other with, is amazing.

To answer the question of how coal can transform into diamond simply: pressure. Immense pressure forces change in coal. The kind of pressure that can break almost anything is necessary, along with ideal conditions, to derive diamonds from coal.

This is the prevailing thought I have when I try to make peace with the events of Nov. 8, 2016. The electorate has stained the American people with its grime, and, like coal, has the capability to stain the world with its toxicity – but there is a potential caveat. If there is a population resilient enough, if its will can withstand the immense pressure that will be put on it by a man who brags about sexual assault, threatens to deport 11 million people, and promises to ban entry of an entire religion into a country whose stance on religion is freedom, there may come out a diamond. A man or woman may be forged under this pressure to become the champion for the marginalized.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was forged under the oppression of the racist sentiment that occupied a powerful majority of the American people and the corrupt Jim Crow laws that supported that sentiment. He is undoubtedly a diamond that adorns the American crown of exceptionalism, and although 2016 left us with black smudges across the band, the light that radiates from his diamond shines through, impeded but unstoppable.

It is not a pleasant idea to consider, but perhaps oppression is a necessary component of compassion because it seems that only under the worst conditions, can the people of the world produce a man or woman genuinely capable of altering the course of our future for the better. It is imperative that we hold on to sayings like “pressure forms diamonds,” and “the night is always darkest right before the dawn” so as not to be crushed by the sentiment supported by a man whose rhetoric manipulated race and bigotry and garnered the support of hate groups that he accepted into his constituency.

There will be pressure, and as a people it is our duty to the world to remain resilient, to refuse to be crushed and broken by the pressure around us. There are young men and women sitting in the classrooms of America, who have the potential to be a King, or a Ghandi, a Mandela, a Huerta, a Parks, or a Yousafzai. The oppression and the hate and sentiment of the population that elected a man, whose platform was tailored to pander to xenophobic groups, will drive them in their struggle for change. We should not pacify them by attempting to normalize this push towards hate that culminated in this election. We should not belittle their struggle.

We should show them the path the great and compassionate leaders of our past took, and when the pressure makes its greatest attempt to break their resolve, and it will, stand by them. When they are ready, place them onto the crown so that they may shine upon the world as a defiant example that as a people compassion will always illuminate through any stain or smudge of hate and they will prevail as symbols of our fervent proposal of enduring love and dedication to each other as human beings.

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Patrick Torres

Patrick Torres is an English and psychology major at Our Lady of the Lake University.