The Non-Sense of Violence (Again)

When I emerge from my seminar on photography and representation each Monday afternoon, it takes me a little while to tune in to the real world. In class we are wrestling with abstract ideas, beautiful or disturbing images, and questions concerning the representation of suffering and telling the truth. Yesterday, I had a rude awakening when I got back to the office. The Boston Marathon had been bombed. There were deaths and many casualties.

The images from Boston are horrific, overwhelming. They show terror and pain, courage and generosity. Many ran to care for the injured, all were shocked by this brutal attack. We remain in shock, trying to figure out what happened and what’s next. That will take some time.

Now, our hearts go out to the victims of yesterday’s bombing. Our university shares in their sorrow and in the determination to stand against terror and violence.

Sometimes we joke about the Wesleyan “bubble,” the safety of a campus that facilitates the broadly experimental and creative learning that we cherish. Of course, we know that we aren’t in a bubble, and that we have many of the same problems of the world off campus. But when an attack like this happens, we are reminded that our community thrives only insofar as we can reject the non-sense of violence — that our freedom to learn depends on the absence of terror.

We mourn the losses in Boston and we recognize that around the world many people were afflicted by violence yesterday and every day. And we should be reminded of the importance that our community places on the refusal of violence as a necessary condition for education.