Editor's Introduction

The raison d'etre of Juniata Voices is to try to capture in print form a small taste of the invigorating intellectual atmosphere at Juniata. To this end we include but a sampling of the many timely and thought-provoking lectures and presentations given on campus during the 2002-03 academic year. Thanks to the efforts of my faculty colleagues, the support of the administration and the generosity of alumni and other friends of the College we enjoyed another season of talks designed to inform, amuse and frequently challenge us to evaluate ourselves, our society and our place in the world.

The first article in this issue of Voices begins with a section from The Iliad; allow me to do likewise with a quote from The Odyssey. After being warned by the goddess Circe of the dangerous Sirens "who enchant all who come near them" with the sweetness of their voices, Odysseus speaks to his crew:

My friends, it is not right that one or two of us alone should know the prophecies that Circe has made me, I will therefore tell you about them, so that whether we live or die we may do so with our eyes open.1

We hear many voices calling to us, beckoning us to consider new ideas and alternate ways of thinking, challenging our sense of equanimity and offering advice or counsel. There are so many choices for members of the Juniata community to make. How should we use the 168 hours allotted to each of us every week? What opinions should we hold? What causes should we support? What should we believe in? Is there some inner voice that guides us or are we primarily extrinsically directed?

It would be so much easier to be complacent and passive in a complex and sometimes confusing world. Yet, like "overbold" Odysseus, we must make a choice - do we lash ourselves figuratively to the mast and brave the allure of the Sirens' song (knowledge?) or stuff our ears with wax and row on past the danger? And if we understand more of the world, or believe we do, do we share that knowledge with our fellow travelers?

To be liberally educated and informed is both an opportunity and a responsibility because it compels us to action. It obligates us to intellectual engagement with the domestic and international problems confronting us.

In a year in which we not only heard of wars and rumors of war but watched as the grim reality of the real thing was broadcast live into our homes, it shouldn't be a surprise that two of this year's pieces deal with the situation in Iraq. Ignasi Guardans, a member of Spain's Parliament, provides an outsider's view of the unilateralism versus multilateralism debate while Edward Walker, former U.S. ambassador to Israel and Egypt, shares an insider's analysis of American foreign policy in the Middle East.

These presentations were not the only voices to be heard on campus on this salient topic. Juniata students and faculty gathered on March 25 to voice their opinions, concerns and fears about the war in Iraq that had started just five days earlier. In organizing the event, Donald Braxton, associate professor of religion and the author of an article on violence and religion in this issue of Voices, stated, "As members of this institution, we exemplify a hope for civil society where reasons are articulated, experiences shared, and critical scrutiny of ideas and ideologies is encouraged."

Whether freshman or former ambassador, each of us has ideas and deserves the opportunity to speak and be heard. In our search for understanding we evaluate the evidence, examine the validity of our ideas, discard those that don't fit the facts, and reformulate. Many students are uncomfortable with this process and need encouragement. This is usually not a problem for the faculty. Some opinions may be more informed than others, they may be the echoes of the views of parents or friends or professors, but it is a beginning.

It is our sincere hope that the articles in this issue of Voices will educate, stimulate and encourage us to listen to our inner voice ... and keep our eyes wide open.

Richard R. Hark

1 The Odyssey, Homer, Book XII, translated by Samuel Butler.