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Speaking Out

On Staying Open to the World

After coping with strong, sometimes contradictory emotions and thoughts during the last two weeks, many Americans are now seeking a return to a normal routine, albeit with an altered sense of what is normal. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said in a televised interview on Saturday that New Yorkers would be foolish and unrealistic not to take extra security precautions and that everyone will continue to grieve over the innocent lives lost on September 11th. At the same time Mayor Giuliani drew an analogy to the citizens of London under siege during World War II. When the air raid sirens sounded, they went to the bomb shelters. With the all-clear signal, they returned to their normal lives--they went to work, they went to school, they went to concerts and sports events. They were not paralyzed.

Today, we must not be paralyzed, either physically or mentally. Not only must daily routines be taken up again, but we should also unlock our thinking--to realize that, now more than ever, it is important, indeed essential, to remain open to the world. Americans and citizens of other countries would be foolish and unrealistic not to remain "on alert." But, in the long run, to reach the goals of security and peace and prosperity, an absolutely essential factor is increased international understanding, greater tolerance for other cultures and beliefs, and enhanced familiarity with people who may initially seem uncomfortably foreign. This unlocking of our minds, this opening up to the world will take great effort. Our world has changed drastically since Mahatma Gandhi wrote: "I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides, and my windows to be closed. I want the cultures of all lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any."

Two years ago, Thomas Friedman wrote a book dramatizing the conflict of "the Lexus and the olive tree"--the tension between globalization and ancient forces of local culture, geography, tradition and community. Two weeks ago, globalization was callously used as one of the tools in a complex plan to destroy lives, shake public confidence and destabilize systems. The trust and apparent naiveté of Gandhi's words have been blown away. It will be hard to keep our windows open, we can no longer let strong threatening winds blow "about [our] house as freely as possible," but we cannot close ourselves off from the terrible complexities of the world. It is time for universities to do what we do best--learn and keep learning, unlock our minds and open, carefully, very carefully, the windows of our understanding.

--Joyce M. Randolph, Executive Director, Office of International Programs

Speaking Out welcomes reader contributions. Short, timely letters on University issues will be accepted by Thursday at noon for the following Tuesday's issue, subject to right-of-reply guidelines. Advance notice of intention to submit is appreciated. --Eds.

Almanac, Vol. 48, No. 6, October 2, 2001


October 2, 2001
Volume 48 Number 6

Dr. Lerman appointed associate director for Cancer Control and Population Science and director of the Tobacco Research program at the Leonard & Madlyn Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute
$2.1 million grant to introduce advanced security features into standard office PCs.
Dennis DeTurck, Srilata Gangulee and Alton Strange will serve the Colleges Houses this year.
The new director for public serves at the Library is Sandra Kerbel.
Wharton as appointed Steven Oliveira as associate dean for External Affairs.
UCD has announced it's new executive director.
Deadlines are announced for Pilot and Feasibility Grants, Trustees' Council Grants, Robert Bosch Fellowships and Luce Scholars Program
Year-end Council reports: Community Relations; Facilities; Personnel Benefits; Pluralism; Quality of Student Life; and Safety and Security.
A new Temporary Staffing Services has a new vendor; EHRS has Training for October and Annual Tuberculosis Screening is now available.
Steinhardt Hall, the new Hillel Center breaks ground.