Assent vs. Belief

Assent vs. Belief

And their practical application.

When I resigned from crew this spring, I found myself with three extra hours in the day to do whatever I wanted. To fill the time, I did almost exactly what I did while competing: run, erg, and go to the gym. It appeared the only difference between pre- and post-crew life was I no longer had to commit to what I was doing. With crew, I had had to show accountability, make practice on time, and keep a routine. Without crew, I was accountable only to myself. A few weeks after resigning, I understood there was no difference between my pre-crew and my post-crew routine; that while both demonstrated accountability, neither demonstrated commitment. My mind and body had been in the boat, but my heart had not. Unless your heart is in something, you never can say you are committed.

I contrast the verb “commit” with the verb “resign.” A sign in the Rollins U.T. Bradley Boathouse displays a pyramid showing levels of dedication, capped by the phrase “I commit.” When you commit to a cause, you do more than put your time and effort into it. You put in your time, your effort, and your intent. With just the time and the effort and without the intent, your commitment becomes resignment. The difference between resignment and commitment is heart, and choosing to put your heart into what you do is the most important difference you can make.

My high school namesake, John Henry Cardinal Newman, also writes about the difference between resignment and commitment in his book An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent. He describes resignment and commitment as two kinds of assent, or two ways of accepting a proposition as true. He calls resignment “notional assent,” where you accept something as true, but you keep it at arm’s length. You understand why it is true, and you could explain to somebody what it means in words, but your understanding it has little to no influence on your life or behavior. A good example would be someone who understands why recycling is good for the environment, but who lacks the motivation to separate their waste from their recyclables.

Writing on commitment, Newman refers to it as “real assent.” When you give real assent to a proposition, you believe it to be true, whether you understand it or not. An example would be a child who knows nothing about the science behind climate change, has never watched An Inconvenient Truth, but whose parents have told him climate change is bad, so he recycles because he believes it can help prevent it. The child cannot explain how recycling helps prevent climate change, but if asked why he thinks it does, he says simply, “My parents told me so.” The logic is missing, but the belief is there.

Newman recognizes both notional and real assent as important for accepting a truth. Notional assent requires understanding the logic behind a truth. People who notionally assent can satisfy their desire for a logical explanation of what they believe to be true. Whatever happens, they can rest assured their beliefs lie on a firmly logical foundation. Real assent, on the other hand, requires not rational logic, but a logic of its own. It seeks its logical basis in an emotion that moves people to accept as true what they do not fully understand, but even so, have the courage act on it. In this way, the weakest real assent is more powerful than any notional one, because any real assent inspires action. Further, every action real assent inspires only strengthens real assent already present. The call to action real assent demands distinguishes it from mere notional assent. For this reason, Newman considers real assent a technical term for another more readily understood term: belief.

But what makes for belief? Isn’t belief simply blind trust in something we don’t understand? Newman answers that while belief can be blind in the sense that we don’t understand something, belief sees more clearly with the heart that understands truth in love. Through belief, we see the love of a person whom we trust, and we listen to what they have to write and what they have to say because we have faith that person will tell us the truth. What’s more, because we love that person, we not only listen; we also do what they say. So a child listens to her parents and does what they say not because she understands them, but because she loves them.

When I resigned from crew this spring, I had felt overwhelmed. I knew the logic for why I should stay resigned to it, but I never thought to myself why I should stay committed to it—maybe really commit to it for the first time. I chose to resign because I forgot my love for the sport, and I confused forgetting that love for not having it at all. But what do you do when you forget why you do the right thing? You do it anyway, is the answer I should have given. But I resigned when I should have committed, and what I learned was the difference. If I had a second chance, I would do it different. Not resign, but instead, commit. And you probably are wondering, "Would he really?” And I would say, “You better believe it.”

Cover Image Credit: Team Canada

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I'm A Woman And You Can't Convince Me Breastfeeding In Public Is OK In 2019

Sorry, not sorry.


Lately, I have seen so many people going off on social media about how people shouldn't be upset with mothers breastfeeding in public. You know what? I disagree.

There's a huge difference between being modest while breastfeeding and just being straight up careless, trashy and disrespectful to those around you. Why don't you try popping out a boob without a baby attached to it and see how long it takes for you to get arrested for public indecency? Strange how that works, right?

So many people talking about it bring up the point of how we shouldn't "sexualize" breastfeeding and seeing a woman's breasts while doing so. Actually, all of these people are missing the point. It's not sexual, it's just purely immodest and disrespectful.

If you see a girl in a shirt cut too low, you call her a slut. If you see a celebrity post a nude photo, you call them immodest and a terrible role model. What makes you think that pulling out a breast in the middle of public is different, regardless of what you're doing with it?

If I'm eating in a restaurant, I would be disgusted if the person at the table next to me had their bare feet out while they were eating. It's just not appropriate. Neither is pulling out your breast for the entire general public to see.

Nobody asked you to put a blanket over your kid's head to feed them. Nobody asked you to go feed them in a dirty bathroom. But you don't need to basically be topless to feed your kid. Growing up, I watched my mom feed my younger siblings in public. She never shied away from it, but the way she did it was always tasteful and never drew attention. She would cover herself up while doing it. She would make sure that nothing inappropriate could be seen. She was lowkey about it.

Mindblowing, right? Wait, you can actually breastfeed in public and not have to show everyone what you're doing? What a revolutionary idea!

There is nothing wrong with feeding your baby. It's something you need to do, it's a part of life. But there is definitely something wrong with thinking it's fine to expose yourself to the entire world while doing it. Nobody wants to see it. Nobody cares if you're feeding your kid. Nobody cares if you're trying to make some sort of weird "feminist" statement by showing them your boobs.

Cover up. Be modest. Be mindful. Be respectful. Don't want to see my boobs? Good, I don't want to see yours either. Hard to believe, I know.

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Soccer Ruined My Brain

Pre-K through high school, I played competitive soccer until I suffered two concussions which have been impacting my life ever since.


Soccer Career

U12 Girls Win 2nd Division - 7 Wins, 1 Tie, No LossesTippco Soccer Club

I started out soccer in the way most younger kids did -- their parents stuck them in rec soccer to keep them active and have them make friends. I played rec until I was nine and that was when my parents decided I should try to do travel soccer. I joined Tippco Soccer Club and my fate was sealed from there.

I had always been a multi-sport athlete -- juggling between cross country, volleyball, basketball, track, and soccer. Soccer was my true passion at the time. The more I played for Tippco, the more competitive I became. I was an aggressive player and loved my spot as either outside back or center back. I would occasionally play wing, but I could never find my spacing correctly.

When I was thirteen I tried out for the team that was a year above me. I made it with a few of my friends and we would stick together because we were intimidated by the older girls. I bonded really well with that team, but it was cut short when spring season hit. At the end of the spring season, there are usually several tournaments that happen throughout Indiana.

We decided to play in the Tippco tournament with hopes of winning. That tournament, I was a pass-player for another team. This meant I would attend my own games and play for the other team whenever they needed me.


While I was pass-playing for the other team, I was subbed in for center back. A girl from the opposing team had gotten the ball into our goal box and was about to score. In the midst of trying to get the ball to the outside of the field, she fell on top of me and I hit the ground. When I hit, my head bounced off a dry dirt patch.

My coach said I blacked out for about a minute. I was taken out of the game and screened for a concussion on the sideline. At first, I was fine. I didn't understand why I couldn't go back into the game and why I had to sit out. I didn't see it as a big deal.

By the time my last afternoon game rolled around, I had convinced my parents that I was okay and I could play. My coach allowed me to play until I started having a double vision regarding the other opponents. Basically, he saw my charge for a girl that wasn't there so I was benched and told to go to Urgent Care.

At Urgent Care, I was diagnosed with a concussion that would affect my fine motor skills and had caused some potential nerve damage in my neck due to it snapping off the ground. I wasn't allowed to exercise for two months and I couldn't watch anything that had a screen. Light bothered me and any brain stimulation severely hurt my head.

U12 Girls White Team Wins 2012 Siege at St. Francis with 4-0 RecordTippco Soccer Club

I recovered from this concussion in time for the fall season. I played well throughout the fall. I had no issues except for my balance. During the spring, I endured my second concussion. We were playing a regular season game in Fishers. Again, I was on defense when a girl tried to curve a ball around my head. She failed and hit me in the face.

I lost vision and hearing. I was immediately taken out of the game and taken to the nearest Urgent Care. This concussion was minor compared to my last one, but it affected my memory. I stopped playing soccer after that game and switched my focus to running.

U12 Girls White Team Wins Fusion Fall Classic with 5 Games in 2 DaysTippco Soccer Club

Throughout high school, I ran for the cross country and track teams. I was involved with several clubs and maintained a 4.0 GPA until my graduation. I graduated Top 5% in my class and had little-to-no effects from my concussions. I had a few minor instances where I would forget certain days or names, but I didn't think much of it.

The Aftermath

The summer before college, I had a lot of trouble remembering to do simple tasks. I blamed it on being lazy and not wanting to do anything. I couldn't remember assignments I had to do, along with chores, appointments, and meetings. It wasn't until my first few quizzes and exams during the first semester that I realized something was very wrong.

I knew the information and I would re-teach it to myself every night to make sure I understood. Each time I took a test or quiz, it would feel like the answers were far away in my mind. I remembered studying for the information, but I couldn't quite reach it.

I began getting awful grades. I was used to all A's and upon receiving my first C, it felt like the end of the world. I couldn't wrap my head around why I wasn't able to retain information like I used to. I went from striving for A's to hoping for C's and B's. It felt like I was a failure and I shouldn't have been accepted to Purdue.

It didn't help that I couldn't even remember people and places. Sometimes I would wake up and not know how to get to class or forget the names of the people I had been sitting with the entire semester.

I reached out to the Disability Resource Center (DRC) about halfway through the semester. They suggested attending supplemental study sessions and I was given a letter that allowed me to have accommodations for testing (i.e. extra time, room alone, etc.). This helped a little bit, but I continued to struggle with schoolwork and exams.

I felt hopeless. I didn't see a point in continuing school or even getting a job. I saw myself as a useless student with the memory of a goldfish. I talked with my parents about it and them kind of understood, but not fully. They didn't get why repeatedly studying doesn't make a difference for me.

Now that I'm in my second semester, I still struggle with retaining information. I feel a bit overwhelmed and I have to work overtime on school and clubs. I've made a great support system.

They're trying to understand what I'm going through and are there for me when I need them. I think I'm going to get testing soon to see how this may impact me later in life. It only took four years to have effects such as these, so I'm worried and interested in how the condition of my brain will be in another four years.

I urge anyone that is struggling from concussions or any condition that they're not alone and there are plenty of resources to seek help. Even if the resources can't fix the problem, they can point you in a direction that can alleviate it. I also wanted to stress how important your brain is.

I used to not think my concussions were a big deal and were more of just a funny sports story. They now have real impacts and it's been changing my life. If you're playing contact sports, please wear safety gear. You only have one brain and you can't get it back once it's gone -- take care of it.


Purdue University Disability Resource Center (DRC)

Address: Earnest C. Young Hall Building, 8th Floor, Room 830, 155 Grant St, West Lafayette, IN 47907

Phone: (765) 494-1247

Purdue University Student Health Center (PUSH)

Address: 601 Stadium Mall Dr., West Lafayette, IN 47907

Phone: (765) 494-1700

Indiana University Health Arnett

Address: 253 Sagamore Pkwy W, West Lafayette, IN 47906

Phone: (765) 448-8000

Franciscan Express Care West Lafayette

Address: 915 Sagamore Pkwy W, West Lafayette, IN 47906

Phone: (765) 463-6262

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