President Summers speaks at Morning Prayers
Speaking at Morning Prayers Friday, Sept. 21, Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers offered comfort and support to the campus while highlighting the University’s unique responsibility in the face of last week’s attacks.
“We can uphold civility and reason, the values for which we stand, in the face of terror and fanaticism,” Summers said. “We can, and we will, debate means and tactics, but all will share in the national and global commitment to victory in the struggle against terrorism,” he said.
“We can – and we will – practice inclusiveness and understanding in stark repudiation of prejudice and hatred, and refuse in this community to tolerate intolerance.”
Summers spoke of the university as a community in which to seek comfort and as an institution of higher learning that will help further understanding of the terrorist attacks. Acknowledging that some might find their daily tasks, from studying to teaching to managing, less meaningful in light of recent events, Summers stressed that this ongoing work “matters more than it ever did.”
“We support ourselves, our community, and our society every hour of every day when we carry forward the important work of learning and teaching, thinking and discussing – that is what this community is about,” he said.
“Despite what has happened, we will cherish the ideals on which this university and our nation were founded all the more,” he said.
Friday’s Morning Prayers were moved from their usual home in Appleton Chapel to Memorial Church to accommodate more participants. Summers admitted that although he expected that his first months at Harvard would bring visits to many parts of the University, “this pulpit was not one of them.” The Rev. Professor Peter J. Gomes, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church, closed the service with prayer.
Peace rally draws few students
“What do we want? Peace! When do we want it? Now!” The familiar chant began halfway through a rally in front of Widener Library at noon, Sept. 20, despite an announcement by senior Stephen Smith that there would be “no chanting, no cheering.”
Smith had asked for “somber but purposeful mourning” for the lives lost in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and a “reasoned, just, and forward-looking response to the tragedy.” Except for the brief outburst, he got it. Addressing the crowd of 300 or so via bullhorn, the half-dozen speakers maintained the dignified, responsible tone Smith had asked for.
Brian Palmer, lecturer in the study of religion, spoke of the innocent lives that may be lost if America goes to war and asked for “a moment of silent mourning for those who have been murdered and those whose continuing breath is in our hands.”
Tim McCarthy, lecturer in history and literature, praised those “all over the world who extended themselves,” but deplored those “who are deploying rhetoric and deploying troops without thinking before they speak.”
Freshman Alisa Khan spoke of her Muslim faith and said, “Now is not the time to harm innocent people.” Mica Pollock, an anthropologist on the faculty of the Graduate School of Education, urged America’s leaders to join in “a global alliance to investigate violence in all its forms,” and to work for world peace. “World peace is what Tuesday’s martyrs truly deserve as their monument.”