As I watch and listen to reports of the rioting in Washington DC today and the ignorant, naïve, and stupefied attempts to overturn the outcome of the November election, I am at once saddened, angered, and embarrassed that elected officials who claim to be lettered individuals have not only allowed these rioters and criminals to disrupt the Constitutional process of certifying the election but that they have incited them! This is a national embarrassment.
But, at the same moment, I understand that Democracy requires renewal and today’s events are a call to those of us who love Democracy, who love justice, who love peace, to deepen our commitments to these ideals and to work for their complete implementation in our society. There is not a more important foundation to Democracy than education. Indeed, the iconic educator John Dewey put it best: “Democracy has to be born anew every generation, and education is its midwife.”
As students, faculty members, staff members, administrators, trustees, and members of the MCLA Alumni body, we are siblings in the struggle to create a new generation of Democracy. And today, our Democracy needs each of us, all of us, to participate in the struggle to bring about an elevated life for one another. Let us recommit to the process of broadening and deepening our students’ and one another’s understandings of the world around us; let us re-commit to the causes for Justice and Peace so that all people have opportunities to advance; let us recommit to the promise of a liberal arts education that provides the skills and develops the intellect to examine things through multiple lenses, and; let us recommit to the idea that earning an academic degree at any level is a starting point to learn more, ever more.
Education is the path toward a just, peaceful, and Democratic society. Violence is an expression of one’s inability or unwillingness to learn. Let us all re-commit to the collective work of making our world a better place by rejecting violence and those who commit it and renewing our relationships with one another.
Stay safe, and stay well.
James F. Birge, Ph.D.
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
375 Church Street
North Adams, MA 01247
“National Top Ten
Public Liberal Arts College”
2021 US News & World Report