Last night, I participated in an event to raise funds for the Wesleyan Center for Prison Education, a great program that provides a liberal arts education to inmates in a Connecticut prison. One of the reasons why I have chosen to support the program (I am on their advisory board) is that I feel like the liberal arts is a wonderful tool for teaching both empathy and perspective. Those are two of the things that I think I took away from my undergraduate education, at least.
I recently read a Rolling Stone interview with Bruce Springsteen that underlined this point for me. In the piece, Springsteen says (cursing deleted by me):
The guys at Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers forgot...that they are a part of a continuum of history and it's not about the buck that you make today at whoever's expense. If there's not a sense of continuity, a sense of some sort of communal obligation and responsibility, a sense of a future involved in what you're doing, and a sense of being beholden to the past, you end up being one shallow, greedy mother*****, just trying to get all you can get.
Springsteen's obviously talking about white collar crooks rather than the kind of inmates that participate in the Wesleyan program, but I think the underlying logic is the same.
To learn more or to donate to the Wesleyan Center for Prison Education, click here.