Thursday, July 26, 2012
From Tragedy to Knowledge, From Darkness to Light
Hello GSAS students and friends,
This week the mass-shooting in Colorado has both saddened and unnerved me. While my heart goes out to the survivors and the families of the victims who are enduring this terrifying and life-altering tragedy -- as my tears fall while I hear fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, sisters, and brothers talk of the loved ones they lost -- my intellectual side simultaneously has been tossing and turning over the cultural and social implications of this horror that need not have happened. Since the event, I have thinking about how graduate study and scholarship might be useful in shedding light on this tragedy and perhaps preventing future ones. To me, if graduate study can’t be used to helped improve society in some way and make the world a better place, it shouldn’t even exist.
Here are some seeds of scholarship that might be cultivated by those within academia and brought to bear on the public consciousness.
1.) Studies in sociology, political science, and law on gun control and policy. Can scholars and academics study this issue so that politicians can stop saying, “We need more studies on how gun control laws would actually impact these kinds of events.” A certain politician has said that he didn't think any particular law would prevent people who are intent on doing harm from carrying out their harm -- is this true? What basis is this claim made from? I'd like to see some scholarly discussion on this so that we as a society have some real basis from which to draw our conclusions.
2.) Studies in poli/sci and American Studies Programs and American History on the 2nd amendment – how can we make the public more aware and in touch with the origin, purpose, and effects of this amendment? What is, actually, the right to keep and bear arms, and why do we have it, who and what does it protect, and what does it mean for a society, and how can we view this right in light of 21st century advancements in both ethics and technology? Instead of just reflexively saying, “We need to protect the second amendment,” let’s strive to increase an awareness about what it really is. Let’s open a conversation about this right of ours, and make the conversation more accessible to all. The effects of this amendment, or right, have a bearing on our lives whether we want it to or not. We need to become more familiar with our rights and why we have them. Graduate and academic conversations can be a starting point for getting this conversation into the public consciousness.
3.) Studies to increase awareness of and education about mental illness, mental disturbances, and mental health. Academics have to research more about the relationship between our societal choices and values and the state of our individual and collective mental health. What can we do to nurture our psyches, and what can we do to prevent our psyches from becoming diseased, disordered, and disconnected from reality?
These are just some preliminary thoughts about what discussions must, I believe, begin to rise up out of the horror and pain of this needless tragedy. Again, my thoughts and love are with the survivors, the victims, and family and friends whose lives were all changed forever on July 20th.
Until next time, Liza