Terrorism, Education and Community

Today is Good Friday, one of the most important holidays for Christians across the globe, the start of Easter weekend. This evening marks the beginning of Passover, a time for Jews of commemoration and hope for freedom. And so the reports from Africa fall particularly hard. Religious and non-religious people alike are reeling from the news out of Kenya. Garrissa University College was the site of a horrific attack, with more than 150 faculty, staff and students being murdered by the Shabab, a notorious terrorist organization. There are reports of indiscriminate killings, but also of "religious tests" meant to reveal whether a person was a Christian or Muslim. If Christian, killed on the spot.

All terrorist attacks undermine the very fabric of a community -- that's their point. They seek not military advantage but to shake confidence in our ability to live together in peace and security. Attacks on schools and universities are particularly heinous, because these are centers of hope for the future. People organize to learn because they believe through education they can create a better world. Terror at schools is meant to destroy that hope. It will not.

Education is a slow, incremental process, yet it can also be transformative. By working at learning every day, suddenly you find yourself on an entirely different trajectory. May our friends and colleagues at Garrissa find their way back to education as they deal with the deep trauma and grief of these recent days. In Kenya, there will be some measure of defiance when students, teachers and staff resume their educational project. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.

On American campuses April is an incredibly busy time, from ramped-up athletics to theater productions that are getting ready for final performances to science experiments that are coming to fruition.These activities are only possible because campuses are communities that value peace and respect, as well as creativity, rigor and pragmatic innovation. As many of us celebrate holidays or just celebrate the season, let us keep Garrissa in our thoughts, and let us be thankful for our communities, and for the work and affection that suffuses them with positive energy.