Core Decorum: Timor laboris conturbat me

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As I write, the sun rises on the first Monday of the fall 2016 semester. The range of emotions commonly felt on a sleepy Monday morning likely don’t apply on this particular Monday, since no work will be demanded of us students until Wednesday. But if I am correct in my assumption, you, the reader, will have just nervously swallowed a lump in your throat, realizing that today is in fact Thursday, or an even later date, by which time the leisure of which I now write has passed. Classes have begun. Timor laboris conturbat me.

In the midst of trepidation, excitement, anxiety, joy and, dare I say, laziness, Irving bids you all welcome. With this welcome comes an abundance of opportunity — opportunity that is tempered only by the paralysis of Monday anxiety. But the medley of Monday’s influence need not paralyze; that same medley might quicken us in our labor and in our leisure. Timor laboris conturbat me?

That question I beseech every student to ask himself: does the fear of work disturb me or does it invigorate me? At the dawn of a new year, the answer to that question influences the success of our curricular and extracurricular endeavors, just as an attitude effects the dreariness or cheeriness of each Monday morning. If I were to judge the atmosphere of the University of Dallas as it stands on this Monday, I would observe a campus full of cheer and warmth. The arriving freshmen seem happy enough — as happy as any freshman could be sitting through important but tedious orientation meetings, all while trying to make plenty of new friends. The returning students seem ecstatic. Some show the enduring happiness of a dog returning home after a walk; others show the relieved cheerfulness of a dog returned home after a visit to the vet. To those who feel more like a dog leaving home to go to the vet: Timor laboris conturbat me.

This last group is probably the most realistic. If this semester progresses like any other UD semester, a crucible awaits us all. We, however, are Crusaders — uniquely adept at finding joy in suffering and value in labor. That sentence makes us sound a bit too masochistic, though. Perhaps it makes us sound too German. There’s more Irish blood at UD than German blood, and I would wager that an Irishman has never uttered or even understood the sentence “Timor laboris conturbat me.

I would wager also that the Irish mentality is not one of laziness, but one of well-balanced vigor. Pubs are established in working-class neighborhoods not so the Irish can forget their troubles, but so they can remember that their fellow workingmen are men. “Work is the curse of the drinking class,”  reads the Oscar Wilde quote on the 2014 Groundhog sweatshirts. Forgive my blasphemy if I say that it is quite wrong. Work and drink are both blessings to man because labor and mirth together satisfy the soul. Thus, Mondays are filled with a medley of emotions. The leisure of the weekend has passed, but the opportunity of the week is dawning. Experience has taught me that we UD students embrace both leisure and opportunity in every day of the week and weekend. I would call that healthy; I would also call that quite fun. Most importantly, I would call that the fulfillment of a principle sacred to that health and wellbeing of the University of Dallas: all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Timor laboris non conturbat me.

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