As Harvard University student McKay Roozen so eloquently wrote in the Dec. 19 Herald-Leader, education can indeed help a society address many of its most intractable problems.
An education that exposes students to higher ideals — such as love of mankind, concern for the larger world and the common good, and respect and empathy for others — can help young people develop the moral character necessary to recognize the spuriousness of using usurped power to destroy others.
The Roman philosopher Cicero suggests "we need every art to become human."
By studying philosophy, art, history and literature, students are introduced to unfamiliar ways of life, alternative value systems, and heroic stories of human endurance and accomplishment that can open their eyes to the nuances of the human condition.
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They begin to see the world through the lens of others, appreciating new perspectives and examining experiences they can only imagine.
When effective, this liberal-arts course of study sparks a spirit of empathy for others that students can internalize as a part of their own developing moral character.
A failure to educate is not just a Pakistani problem; it is a problem we see manifested in several of the issues we face here in the U.S.
Thankfully, our schoolchildren are not being executed by paramilitary terrorists. But students on college campuses are facing sexual assault from fellow students, and questions of racial injustice permeate our social interactions.
If our system of education can help instill a sense of empathy in our young people, they will more likely refrain from intentionally harming others. One who can imagine how a target of some act of violence feels will think twice before acting.
Many who commit crimes have failed to internalize the essential outcomes of a sound education, and it is our responsibility as citizens and educators to provide them that opportunity.
It is an inherent goal of a liberal-arts education to produce good citizens — not just professionals capable of earning a good living.
Just as important as learning skills that translate in the marketplace is learning how to collaborate, communicate, share diverse perspectives, analyze problems and recognize what others have to contribute.
When we are able to impart that type of wisdom to our students, we have succeeded in developing citizens who choose compassion over violence and sympathy over hatred.
And that's how we help them "become human."