Dear William James Community,
This weekend is Independence Day, the 4th of July, a day that marks the signing of the Declaration of Independence. If these past months have taught us anything, it is not how independent we are as a country and a world, but how interdependent we are. Our health, our economy, our educational system, our safety, and even our freedom are all dependent upon the relationships that we have with each other.
Social, political, educational and psychology leaders like Gandhi, Goffman, FD Roosevelt and William James write eloquently of the essential connectedness of human beings. Even with the help of sophisticated technology, the traditional 1812 Overture is better when the musicians are present to each other and we are to them. Our understanding of ourselves is shaped by our interactions with others, manufacturers need supply chains, businesses need customers, customers need businesses, and educators need students. The spiritual educator Thích Nhất Hạnh so emphasizes the interdependence of all life that he calls our perception of independence an ‘illusion.’
In his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail, Rev. Dr. ML King wrote: “I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Whether it is justice, commerce, peace, health, hunger, music or education, we depend upon each other.
This morning, Governor Baker announced that the Commonwealth will begin Phase 3 of its reopening on Monday, July 6. William James College staff will begin to returning to campus in shifts beginning on July 20th. Additional plans, which will include information for Faculty and Students about our fall instruction, will be shared next week. Our facilities team has been preparing diligently to ensure that appropriate health and safety measures are in place. Concurrently, our academic and administrative leadership have been actively discussing ways to manage density in the building while delivering the highest quality education possible. These folks are acting on behalf of all of us, they are making plans for our safety and creating the opportunity for people to realize their professional aspirations because we are “one.”
As we return to our building and embark on our new normal, this understanding of our interdependence should lead us to keep each other safe by wearing masks, keeping a safe distance, washing hands and staying home when we are ill. It should invite our patience with each other and our generosity of spirit. We are recreating our community to achieve the professional aims of each member, and all of our members. Success with this aspiration demands that we deeply value the importance of each other and act in ways that benefit them. We depend upon each other.
My thanks to the many who have been generously focused on improving the lives of others and protecting our health and well-being. We benefit from our relationship with you. Take some time to relax on this holiday, we have all been through a great deal.
Happy Interdependence Day.