Affirming our connection
During the past month, we observed the first anniversary of the terrible events of September 11, 2001, a cruel and costly attack on the United States of America, one that displayed in a vast cataclysmic panorama horror and heroism at a pitch that has not touched us as a nation for more than half a century. We remember the University of Vermont alumni who lost their lives on that dark day and are reminded of the truth that all who live on this planet are connected
We are also moved to reflect that most human beings do not live graced by our blessings of abundance and liberty and stable institutions. To the contrary, billions live without adequate nourishment and medical care, without educational opportunity, above all without belief that they can negotiate the multiple impasses blocking the full development of their human potential and also blocking any plausible path to better lives for them and their children.
Gordon Brown, a British governmental minister, put it succinctly last fall when he said, Today what happens to the poorest person in the poorest country can affect the richest person in the richest country. We are all connected, and until we come to terms with the full impact of that interconnectedness, we will not be in a position to renovate the world, making it secure, just, and humane, not just for ourselves but for all people everywhere.
A university has a fundamental role in such renovation, of course, making it imperative that a powerful sense of connection guide all that we do in the classroom, in the research lab, in our scholarship, and in how we treat one another on this campus each day. I hope that same sense will guide our graduates through their lives beyond UVM as well.
On September 11, 2002 we held a non-denominational service at Ira Allen Chapel. As the tower chimes tolled at 8:46 a.m., the hour the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center, one could not help but think of poet John Donnes famous words: Any mans death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
Daniel Mark Fogel