“Thanks for introducing us to Williamstown,” friends said at lunch yesterday. I agreed that this scenic valley in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts had been a great place to go to college.
Later that day, the president of Williams College sent out a disturbing email. It seems a hate crime had occurred, threatening death to African-American students. The college immediately took action: investigating the incident, of course, and launching a series of conversations and events to help a shaken college community deal with this intrusion, especially to help minority students to feel safe.
Instead of holding classes today, all students, faculty, and staff were invited to an outdoor event, community lunch and opportunities to talk with each other and with counselors. No athletic practices, either.
“Today will be an important day for us to unite to begin to heal from this terrible act and reaffirm that such harmful behavior has no place at Williams—or anywhere,” said college president Adam Falk.
No cover-up, no worrying about school reputation, no spin, no business as usual. I am grateful to my college for putting aside all routine and pride to deal with hatred.
Similar events took place in Brooklyn this weekend, in that instance threatening Jews.
Our reckless politicians, egged on by reckless religionists, have stirred the pot of hatred and scapegoating. Hate groups are on the rise in Europe and here. Now is the time for us to speak
FAITH Q & A
Q: Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and George Soros, all non-believers, have given billions away and are encouraging the wealthy to be required to pay more taxes. Is it possible that altruism is in the make-up of some people without it being necessary to be taught by Christ to give everything away?
A: Yes and no. I think we are, by nature, capable of great generosity and sacrifice. Look at what parents will do for their children, and the instinctive way people help each other carry burdens and deal with accidents.
Where faith seems to provide necessary guidance is in whom one will help, under what circumstances and to what extent. Jesus taught that we should love all, even our enemies. He said we should give under all conditions, not just when we feel like it. And we should go overboard in giving. Each of those instructions takes us farther than instinct wants to go.
Not Williamstown, but Central New York, where my son studies and took this photo.