Volume 96, Issue 8
Wednesday, September 11, 2002

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Change must start right here

It is very difficult to wrap your head around the tragic events the world witnessed one year ago today. The magnitude of the assault on America and the loss of human life is almost too much to comprehend. However, if we are to learn from the attacks of Sept. 11, we're going to have to be both dedicated and open-minded.

It's up to universities like Western to lead the way.

A university campus is one of the last sanctuaries of free thought in the world. Other institutions in our society simply have too many other vested interests – too much money to lose or politics to play – to objectively evaluate what is really happening in the world. Willful blindness on the part of governments and corporations is never going to change; universities must bear the contentious burden of delving into the root causes behind atrocities like Sept. 11.

For these reasons, it is nothing short of devastating to hear about tragedies such as the Hebrew University suicide bombing in August of this year. It is deeply concerning when those who should be most capable of solving the deeply entrenched rifts in our world are falling victim to them.

While the correlation between abstract thought at a university and the alleviating of the world's problems might seem like a stretch, one fact remains: searching for a solution has to begin somewhere.

A logical starting point is at academic institutions, where people from both sides of the fence can come together and free thought is allowed to flourish. This is not meant to be a narcissistic point of view – if any other group of people in our society had an answer, the world would gladly receive it.

The most often asked question on the one year anniversary of Sept. 11 is, "What have we learned?". Wishful thinking would have us hope that another incident of unnecessary death and destruction would have tipped us off to the fact that we should stop killing each other. That is clearly not the case, with the United States on the verge of declaring war on Iraq and the Palestinians and Israelis locked in their eternal feud – to name just a few of the deadly battles either brewing or in full force in the world.

Understanding does not come easy. The sad truth is, the vast majority of people in the world have absolutely no interest in learning about cultures other than their own. Understanding is the only way we will ever earn any peace on this earth and understanding is achieved through education and open discussion.

This university is supposed to be a place of higher learning, so it is imperative that we, as just one of the millions of academic institutions in the world, hold ourselves to a higher standard.

As a academic community, we owe at least this much to the world's many victims, including those of Sept. 11.


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