Murray Addresses the School: “On Truth”

Last Sunday, community members convened virtually to view Lawrenceville’s 211th Convocation ceremony to commence the 2020-2021 academic school year.

Last Sunday, community members convened virtually to view Lawrenceville’s 211th Convocation ceremony to commence the 2020-2021 academic school year. Following the invocation given by Lawrenceville’s Hallelujah! Chaplain, the Reverend Dr. Greg B. Jones, Head of School Stephan Murray H’55 ’65 ’16 P’16 ’21 addressed Lawrenceville in a speech entitled “On Truth.”

“Truth,” Murray began, “is an ideal we tend toward, though like an asymptote of a curve, will never quite touch.”

He explained that while many people believe in a single truth that aligns with their personal beliefs, power exists in multiple narratives. “To see one perspective and not the other is to see through a limited lens one does not negate the other. One is not more true than the other—together they amplify our understanding. One shows what we aspire to, and the other teaches us if we are serious about our aspirations, how far we fall short,” said Murray.

Bringing the message closer to home, Murray then described the unique opportunity given to internationally diverse communities such as Lawrenceville: “Here at Lawrenceville we come into contact with an enormous range of individuals—as roommates, as Housemates, as classmates, as teammates. And we will get it wrong at times; we will misunderstand each other, and sometimes hurt each other.”

Murray believed that “these moments of imperfection are the inevitable result of coming together here on this campus.” According to Murray, “We show our strength as a community when we avoid pulling back into retrenched, single-minded factions the moment we stumble. We show our strength when we have the will and resolve to trust, to listen, and to see competing truths.”

In light of the recent Black Lives Matter protests nationwide, Murray warned the Lawrenceville community to never become satisfied with our current state of matters regardless of how much progress there may be. He emphasized that “what we refer to as knowledge must be under frequent reassessment, refinement, and debate, and when we fall into complacency and fail to challenge the facts routinely, it is at our peril.”

Next, Murray reflected on Lawrenceville’s recent progress, saying, “I do not believe we have been complacent...That’s not to say we don’t have important work ahead of us in addressing issues right in our midst...I’ve learned in recent months just how far we still have to go and how much work I have to do to see a bigger picture, and to see a much more complete truth about the experiences that so many of our students of color have had here.”

Members of the Lawrenceville community already expressed their widely varying opinions on the School’s treatment of racial issues to Murray. While he has received many supportive emails, there have been an influx of those who disagree with his actions as well.

Murray concluded his speech with a reminder that, despite the current divide in the School, “We have a choice. We do not have to live divided. We don’t simply have an opportunity here. We have an obligation…We cannot be afraid to respect each other and to love each other, and to show the rest of the world how it’s done.”

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