Once again this past week we have news of students and colleagues who have become the target of violence by the forces of rabid tribal ignorance.
Garissa University College on the plains of Kenya is a small but growing school. It was formerly a "normal" school, which is the old fashioned name for a teachers' college - a place where bright and service-minded young people could prepare to carry the light of knowledge to children and teens in towns and villages across the area. More recently, it has been offering more advanced degrees in what we'd consider practical agriculture and engineering - skills to help the poor in towns, villages, and cities engage in sustainable development, and survive the growing drought.
I grieve with the families of my lost colleagues, and the families of our lost students.
It is a reminder, though, that now and throughout history education is on the front lines. Education is a radical act, an act of courage and defiance. The belief that every human can make a difference, that each student is worth empowering will forever be a challenge to tyranny. The quest for better understanding, for unifying principles, for overarching theories and universal truth is a constant threat to tribalism and parochial ignorance in all its forms. There is a reason why Al Shabab attacks schools and universities, and a reason why some of our own politicians continue to cut funds for elementary and higher education. We really are their enemy.
So to all those who teach, and for all those who continue to learn with open-mindedness and commitment, it has been a hard week. Take courage, though. May each loss of a student be replaced by 5 more yearning to learn and be free. May each fallen professor be followed by several more willing to stand against ignorance. May each of us who continue as teachers and learners renew our commitment on the front lines of humanity.
And may we remember the courage of our fallen friends.
May they rest in peace.