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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Brandeis: Peace, not alienation

Published: January 26, 2007
Section: Opinions

The Brandeis Chaplaincy has announced the start of a weekly series of peace vigils to be held at the peace memorial near Usdan. Billed in a campus mailing list announcement as a weekly vigil to be mindful of the war in Iraq and to express together our hope for a just and speedy resolution, the open-ended event serves a legitimate and widespread need in the community to express the universally-held hope for an end to the conflict in Iraq.

We feel that it is appropriate for the Chaplaincy to actively support the united expression of those sentiments which are common to all faith traditions: namely, the simple hope for peace, irrespective of political belief.

At the same time, the announcement raises a legitimate question heard frequently in the community, especially in the wake of the President Carter and Professor Dershowitz visits this week: to what extent does the a community-sponsored event appear to endorse, however inadvertently, a particular point of view? When a certain opinion or political sentiment prevails heavily among the student body, are those individuals with dissenting viewpoints justified in the often-heard assertion that such events serve as perennial reminders of their minority status, thus diminishing the atmosphere of openness and free expression that we strive for? Do our attempts to be mindful of this inevitably lead to excessive caution on the part of the majority?

The Chaplaincy is taking a courageous step in opening this new forum of spiritual expression. It certainly has the potential to unite us in our declaration of hope for a speedy and peaceful resolution to the human tragedy resulting from the current armed conflict. We feel that this undertaking will be of greatest service to the entire community if those charged with addressing the spiritual needs of the campus proclaim unambiguously that all political beliefs have a legitimate place in this venue, and that the individuals holding them are worthy of deepest respect.