Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Preparation For The Real World at Harvard

How could I not link to an article containing this gem?

Much like dead squirrels, the idea of Harvard students being threatened with knives and umbrellas in the shadow of Widener Library is quite unsettling.

You know you've got to read it in its entirety.

The student author came so close here, but didn't quite make the intellectual leap:

Except for the few unlucky enough to have experienced it, most Harvard students are culturally unprepared to understand violence. The campus attempts to squelch aggression by intellectualizing it: there are entire departments effectively devoted to the study of people killing each other. But there is something fundamental about violence that Historical Study A-12, “Conflict and Cooperation in the Modern World,” doesn’t quite capture. Academia is inherently ill-equipped to deal with the realities of conflict, since it is based on the premise that disputes can be resolved through rational exchange of ideas. Yet violence, whether it happens to squirrels or Harvard undergraduates, is a strange animal. It is sudden, profound, and oblivious to logic and theory.

We emerge from our classes confident that we thoroughly understand the world. But every now and then, something happens that pops the Harvard bubble, and reminds us that book-learning is not the same as experience. It is a chilling realization—no one likes to see the ivory tower stained crimson.

Still, I have to believe there's hope for the young man. I wonder what he thinks of the Global War on Terror?

1 comment:

Ellen K said...

It appears that what the writer was attempting to do was to point out the natural tendency for any animal, including humans, to fight for survival. In this regard our war in Iraq has been muffled by good intentions without substance. You cannot have a dialog with someone who fully intends to take your life. You might have a chat, but it would probably be short and a little too pointed. And that is the crux of the problem with the Middle East. If rampant Islamists do have some sort of evil master plan to eradicate the world of all competing religions then it is of course our perogative to say no and deny them any chance. What throws the whole debate out of balance are those nuts, who like the naive Harvard students, think that the dog will never attack. Eventually the dog will attack and will win. As for the comment about dogs not being fast enough, mine yellow lab races rabbits and squirrels and catches them. That is also something to think about if you want to read this as an allegory.