Everything we do begins with a story. Without story, we would perish. We don’t get off that couch and head to the kitchen unless we have first told ourselves a little story: “There’s food in that kitchen, it will taste good, erase the feeling of hunger, and thanks to it I will survive.” We may not say those words out loud, and if we do, someone should call a doctor. But at the most primal level, that story is told and its lesson heeded.
When I started studying at Leuphana University Lüneburg, I eventually went into the library and couldn’t help notice the quote by Thomas Jefferson on the library staircase. The words and possible meanings were resonating with me. By studying here, I imagined, I can create a better future. No matter how dark the past is, we can make the future brighter.
Now that a few semesters have passed, I recently started to question the quote. By only looking into the future, don’t we neglect the past? What kind of quote is this to put in a library, which basically consists of works of the past? Is there a deeper meaning to why a quote by Thomas Jefferson was chosen? And is it suitable to put his words on our walls? What else is there to know about Jefferson and his dreams for the future?
In 2021, President Biden offered a safe haven to Hong Kong residents in the U.S., which allowed them to prolong their stay for up to 18 months. This year, Biden extended that offer for an additional two years, calling Hong Kong’s policies a “significant erosion of human rights and fundamental freedoms.” To understand these policies better, here’s a brief look into Hong Kong’s recent history.