Perspectives From A Distance

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First, I have a confession to make. My blog for last week (April 22nd) was written two weeks ago, just before my wife and I left for a trip to Italy. We were out of the country from April 13th through April 21st conducting business for the College and enjoying a few days of vacation.  We never expected there to be such dramatic events deserving more immediate comment and reflection while we were travelling.

Needless to say, this was a challenging time to be away from the United States, from the Boston area and from the campus.  The news of the Boston Marathon bombings was covered extensively by the international press in both the print media and on television.  We made several phone calls each day to family, college personnel and friends, and viewed internet sites for additional information and details.

We experienced the same emotional roller coaster as so many of you did … shock and deep sadness, fear and concern, and finally appreciation and support that the issue was resolved.  But there is a different perspective when you are over 4,000 miles away from a situation, and I would like to share a few thoughts.  Hopefully, in the coming days as our region and our country return to some semblance of normalcy, I too will return to blogging about events in higher education.

First, I was impressed with the levels of leadership exercised by so many during this crisis.  So much of the media attention has been on the outpouring of support and community spirit.  And that is laudable.  But I was impressed to see so many people in state government, law enforcement, and on a more local level, the AMC campus, exercise clear and decisive leadership during challenging and difficult times.  We too often criticize failures in leadership.  This was a case study in effective leadership by many.

Second, it was heartwarming to experience the compassion and concern for Boston and America from all over the world.  Our travels in Italy put us in contact with many people from different countries, cultures and traditions.  But whenever someone came to know that we were from the Boston area, there was great empathy and support. In a world where our focus is too often on our differences, it is important that so many people from throughout the world share common values and beliefs.

Finally, I have to admit our continued concern about the overwhelming presence of media and social media.  It was apparent from the first events on April 15th through these past few days that so much of what was reported was false, inaccurate or incomplete.  Parents lost the opportunity to prepare their children to deal with these realities since it was impossible to avoid the images, sounds and commentary.  We need to find a balance between freedom of speech and access to information … and the responsibility for accuracy, fairness and civility.

(As always, your comments and questions are welcome.)

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