As we process the events of the past week, it is difficult to grapple with what we and others are thinking and feeling. Each of us responds to these events from where we live, from our perspectives as individuals and as members of an educational community to which we have dedicated our time, our energy, our lives.
As students in the liberal arts, you have many resources to bring to bear on these difficult experiences. As humanists, you know something of the finite nature of human existence, of the complex and often tragic nature of human relationships, and of the healing power of words well placed; as social scientists, you know something about the role power plays in social interactions, the nature of psychological and physical trauma, and the intricacies of healthy human communities. I ask you to bring to bear on this difficult situation the wisdom of your disciplines, the power of your learning and the depth of your commitment to your friends, your teachers and your institution.
As we try to come to some terms with this experience in all its complexity, I hope we find ways to notice the beautiful and good things that are done at Penn State everyday even as we face the things we must as we learn more about what happened. Your good academic work, your integrity as students and your well placed energy contribute to what is valuable about Penn State.
If you or any of your colleagues need to talk with a professional counsellor, please don't hesitate to call Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at 814-863-0395 or go online at: http://www.sa.psu.edu/caps/schedule_appointment.shtml For emergencies: http://www.sa.psu.edu/caps/crisis.shtml
Once, in the course of my own education in the liberal arts, I came across a passage from Rilke. My wife reminded me of it last night and it seems to be helping me at the moment; perhaps it might be of some help to you today:
"Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer."
-- Rainer Maria Rilke, 1903 in Letters to a Young Poet
Christopher P. Long
Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies and
Associate Professor of Philosophy and Classics
College of the Liberal Arts
The Pennsylvania State University