Bicycle Diaries: Too close to home

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Too close to home

shooting of 22 undergrads
w/5 dead

Yesterday's tragedy at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL would be bad enough if it weren't for my own connections to this institution. On the one hand, the increasing frequency of university shootings disturbs me greatly. As a former professor I value highly the intimate community that higher education provides young people.

On the other hand, I have close personal and professional relationships with NIU for the last 5 years. Every April I've loaded the steel bitch on Metra's Union Pacific West train. I get out at the last station in Elburn. From there I ride 13 miles to NIU in DeKalb. As I've posted before, I work for the university's International Training Office. They have a multi-year contract with the US State Department to develop leadership and community organizing skills for young people from around the world.

That such an international program thrives at an isolated prairie school is nothing short of a miracle. This is what NIU should be known for; rather than this awful tragedy. All I can offer my friends and colleagues are words of Blaise Pascal.
Man is but a reed, the most feeble thing in nature, but he is a thinking reed. The entire universe need not arm itself to crush him. A vapor, a drop of water suffices to kill him. But, if the universe were to crush him, man would still be more noble than that which killed him, because he knows that he dies and the advantage which the universe has over him, the universe knows nothing of this.

All our dignity then, consists in thought. By it we must elevate ourselves, and not by space and time which we cannot fill. Let us endavour then, to think well; this is the principle of morality.

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