More than 2,500 students,
faculty members and staff joined together in Elon University's Alumni
Gym for a 45-minute gathering to commemorate the anniversary of
the September 11 terrorist attacks. With music provided by the Elon
University Camerata and the fifth grade class from Elon Elementary
School, the community paused to remember the victims, honor the
heroes and consider the ways each person can contribute to the ideal
of world peace.
Elon President Leo Lambert
led the program. One of the keynote speeches was presented by Paul
Parsons, dean of the School of Communications. Following are his
Most of us try to do right. We obey the law, honor
our promises, play games by the rules and wait our turn in line.
We respect the rights of others, we're courteous to strangers and
we even leave tips at places we expect we'll never go to again.
Scholar and author James Q. Wilson believes we have a moral compass
within that directs us toward good.
But not everyone
uses the moral compass. When our media tell of evil and misery,
savagery and greed, they do so because, thankfully, evil is not
our norm. If our daily lives were full of evil, then the newsworthy
stories would be the occasional outbreak of decency and compassion.
We'd be amazed at parents who sacrifice for their children. We'd
be shocked that someone gave to a charity. We'd be astonished if
someone were polite to us.
The good news
is, we expect people to act good, and we are shocked when they do
of you, there was nothing heroic about my 9/11. I stood huddled
with students beneath the large-screen TV in the lobby of McEwen,
watching in disbelief. But I also watched a national spirit arise
from the ashes of destruction.
We became a
more generous people. Blood donations skyrocketed in the aftermath.
Charitable contributions poured in. We wanted to help one another.
And while we have now returned to every-day routines, a season of
trauma reveals our true selves.
As a journalist,
I discovered my profession still believes in serving the public
good. On 9/11, television became our national gathering-place. Networks
provided nonstop news coverage for four days, at a tremendous financial
loss. That's public service. They performed a great voluntary good
for our nation when the time demanded great good.
we lost our sense of security, and I now better appreciate those
who live in troubled lands around our globe, who wonder each day
if this will be a safe street to walk down, or a safe bus to board.
I've never had to live that way. I don't want to live that way.
We became wiser a year ago, now knowing that we cannot sit back
and wait complacently for evil to come at us again.
many of us will have our own 9/11s in life. It will be something
unexpected - a broken relationship, an academic setback, the loss
of a family member or friend. Fortunately, we live in a world where
people care, are generous, sympathetic and can be heroic. I saw
evidence in the past year of a moral compass within, guiding us
toward good, and for that I am thankful. May God grant you peace.