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Monday, May 31, 2010

Respite Enroute: Lukovit, Bulgaria

Ray wrote: " I suppose you're preparing to enter Romania any day now. Drum Bun!"

Yes, today, as it happens!  We are now at a found-by-fortune-when-exhausted four-star hotel in Lukovit, Bulgaria, called the Diplomat Plaza.  I recommend it.  God was smiling on us.  We had left Kavala shortly after noon on Monday (Memorial Day in the U.S.), and had driven a slow but scenic route through Drama and Serres, Greece, to the Bulgarian border, and had made our way north through Sofia. It was past dinnertime when we decided to continue driving from Sofia toward the Romanian border, some 200 Km to the northeast, on the Danube at Ruse, Bulgaria.  By 10:00 my eyes were very tired.  Then there appeared this large and elegant hotel.  A Godsend.  A sight for sore eyes.  So here I sit, sugar measuring a low 79 mg/dl, typing when I should be eating.

Our room is excellent, fully equipped (bathrobes, refrigerator/minibar, air conditioner, etc.), and while I have no complaint, Shirl did make me laugh about one feature.  A considerate woman, she tried to open the window a crack to vent her cigarette smoke, and found thereon a message that read, "Please do not open windows.  The air conditioning system is automatic, and opening the window will cause it to turn off to save energy.  We ask that you keep the windows closed to prevent entry into the hotel of insects and saboteurs."

Bulgaria appears thinly-populated, full of forested hills and fertile valleys.  Its people have been quite friendly, if a bit frustrated by my lack of their language.  English-speakers are less common here than in any of the other countries we have visited.   Nevertheless, I have found Bulgaria a pretty place, and I hope to see more of it.

Thanks for the note, Ray.  You've stimulated this morning's post! Now, I need some breakfast.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Musings from Kavala

Sunday, 30 May, 2010: We are now in Kavala, very different from Kosovo, though it has the same number of letters, and both start with K.  We are in a five-star, beach-side hotel, Hotel Lucy, and (curiously) have decided to spend an extra night here, before traversing Bulgaria on our way to Bucharest.

On Thursday in Bucharest, I am to speak ten minutes' worth of words at the 50th Anniversary of Fulbright RO .  I could say 60 minutes' worth more easily.  It seems as if I have lived 40% of my 67 years since 2007, when I was asked to apply for the Fulbright Scholarship in Romania.  I shall one day die different and more willingly than I would have, had I not had this experience.  In Romania I have learned that there are no coincidences, only events designed to reveal to us our Purposes, which may never be made clear to us, but which are nevertheless both real and important.

I am trying to decide what gift to leave with my former MBA students Christos and Georgia, who live here in Kavala, and who spent all of Saturday with us, until 6:30 PM, when finally we parted so they could have the evening of their 11th wedding anniversary tete-a-tete.  I am probably going to end up giving them a good scotch or a liqueur, perhaps Drambuie.  I hope the booze shops are open on Sundays in Kavala.

Last night I went over Klaus with a polish-wax compound.  This morning I buffed him.  He seems pleased, and smiles at me with his refreshed red cheeks.

As has happened before, I have written a blog post in a note to Mircea.  Thank you, Mircea the Male Muse.  I need muses.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Or was it Albania?

Friday, 28 May, 2010: According to the stamps in our passports and the license plates on the cars we followed, and/or passed along the way, our Grosser General Atlas 2008/2009 has misdrawn borders for the former Yugoslavian states.  Podgorica (Pod-gor-reet'-sa) is definitely in Montenegro, and from there we were over four hours going only 200 KM (average speed, 30 MPH) to the border with what we'd thought would be Albania.  The road is one of the finest mountain highways I have driven, and the rugged beauty of Montenegro belongs on every Terra-lover's bucket list.  There are many unlined and unlighted tunnels (drilled though bedrock with no sign of concrete reinforcement), and in the longer ones, my eyes took so long to adjust that I was temporarily blinded by the transition from bright sunshine to the tunnel's black walls, with only Klaus' headlights to show the way.  And these tunnels curved.  Some had s-curves.  And full-sized semi-trailers (TIRs) were coming the other way.  Lots of fun!  There was often no light at the far end for far too long to suit my oft-lasered old eyes, which may test 20/20, but which behave in changing light far differently than they once did.

Once past the rugged and snow-capped mountains, we drove a couple hours east across what our map said was Albania.  But the car plates were predominately MNE-prefix plates, so I doubted the map.  Then, at the east end of Montenegro, the border guard's sleeve read "Politija Kosovo."  We certainly did not trust that map, which did not even show a country called Kosovo.  Yet, our GPS promised it was taking us toward Skopje, FYROM, which was our planned mid-day stopping point.  Kosovo, was it, that we were entering?  So be it.

After she saw our blue passports, the border guard called over a UN (or NATO) peacekeeper (who told us he was not from Kosovo, but was "International").  This short but heavy-set, mustachioed fellow in a weird-looking uniform informed us that our green card (European car insurtance certificate) was invalid in Kosovo, and that we should buy one at the customs house just down the road a piece, "or you might have trouble in southern Kosovo.  They cost 45 Euro.  That is the minimum, good for two weeks."  Then he waved us through.

Happily, the customs station must have only wanted to check trucks, for they waved us through without even stopping us.  We kept our money.

Skopje turned out to be a bustling, modernizing city with a great deal of construction in progress.  Unfortunately, our niece who lives here with her husband is presently working in Kabul, and her husband, David is also away on business.  So, we missed seeing them, as we had hoped to do.  

Saturday, 29 May:  So, yesterday we crossed Montevideo, Kosovo and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), and finally arrived here in this charming, old, yet modern city at the north end of the Aegean Sea, Kavala, Greece.  We have spent Saturday with PSU alumni Christos and Georgia Kelemenis, and their lovely daughters Olga (9) and Sofia (6).  It has been a full and fun day.  We have seen much of Kavala, eaten a huge afternoon meal at a seaside restaurant, and have visited Philippi, now only an archeological site, but once, some 23 centuries ago, the capital of the Known World (aka, the Empire of Macedonia), under Alexander the Great. Now, we will rest till morning.  Except that, when the sun is low, I plan to give Klaus a good polishing and waxing.  He deserves it.  He has been a real workhorse this past week.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Today: through Albania to Greece

It is 6:29 AM on Friday, May 28th.  We will leave Montenegro this morning, and head for Greece, which means that today we will see much of Albania.  I am told that the roads in Albania are narrow and dangerous, but I foresee nothing worse than the roads of rural Romania.

Hopefully, by nightfall we shall be in Kavala, at the north end of the Aegean Sea, where we will tomorrow visit our good friends (and my former students) Christos and Georgia Kelemenis, both Plymouth State University graduates, and MBAs.  I last saw them in 2001, while on sabbatical in Greece.  I look forward to meeting their two children!  If I remember correctly, their oldest was a babe-in-arms when last I saw her. 


Spent two restful nights (24 & 25 May) at the Green Park Hotel just above Avellino on Montevirgine.  It is a good hotel run by a master innkeeper named Antonio.  We recommend it, and will stay there again.  The views from the mountain are spectacular, though there was a haze in the valleys on the day I went up (while Shirl napped).  Antonio made us our ferry reservations to Dubrovnik.  It proved a very good ship.  Bravo!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Croatia, Here We Come

The ferries to Greece appear all booked up until 30 May.  We need to get to the Balkans earlier than that, if we are to make our planned visits to our niece Kelly in Skopje, F.Y.R.O.M. and to the Fulbright-Romania 50th Anniversary Festivities on 3 June in Bucharest.  So, this noon I have booked us a stateroom aboard the Marco Polo, a traghettilines ferry that leaves tomorrow at 10:00 PM from Bari and arrives in Dubrovnik, Croatia, at 7:00 Thursday morning. 

I've heard that the ACBSP has a new member school, or other contacts in Croatia.  I shall e-mail my friends in Kansas City to see what I can learn about that.  I shall also e-mail Kelly, and let her know we are on our way to see her and her husband David.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Florence: Michelangelo, Classic Motorcycles and Michael the Crazy

Saturday, May 22: After realizing the time it was taking to organize ourselves to move, to move between cities, and to see something while in a city, by mutual agreement we cut Venezia from our itinerary and drove to Firenze.  We checked into the Hotel Duca D'Aosta on Via Fiume, just one block from the main bus station.  I took a nap, while Shirl and Alex went in search of an Internet cafe recommended by Nicola, the man at the desk (who had explained at check-in that he had a girl's name).  I caught up with them at 6:30, and we had a coffee in a narrow Florentine street as we awaited 7:00, and the opening of the chosen Trattoria.  Dinner was fine, and all slept well in our triple-room which we found reminiscent of our apartment at P-ta M.V. 1 in Cluj.

Sunday, May 23: Florence (Firenze).  I awoke at 6:30 full of inspiration and energy.  I had been to Florence only once before, on business, and had not had a chance to walk through the city and enjoy it.  So, after having my invitation declined, I left Shirl and Alex sleeping peacefully, ate a light Italian hotel breakfast, and went to the bus station. I caught No. 12 (or 13) to the Piazza Michelangelo.  The ride was twenty or so minutes, and some 6 Km, though its circuitous route took me to a spot only about 2 Km from the hotel, by foot.  I determined that I would walk back there, and see the old city on the way.  The bus crossed the Ponte Belvedere, and went past some villas that have to be the premier real estate in Florence before climbing the hill to the Piazza Michelangelo.

[The useless computer at this Roman hotel has just obliterated my last half-hour's words.  As you can surmise from the title of this post, there will be a bit more to tell, once I get to a reliable Internet site, and a computer that will accept pictures from my camera.  Damn!]

[Monday, May 24:  We are in Rome.  Alex is parting ways with us today to "go walkabout" in Europe, and will meet us in Cluj on June 5th.  That is the truly big event of the trip, so far.]

Tuesday, May 25, 5:19 AM, Avellino, Italy.  Shirl has finally turned in, after staying up to watch the end of the Red Sox game (on-line), which they won 6-1.  I have slept, so am feeling up to finishing the story started in Florence.  I am on Shirl's Macbook, so have high hopes for reliability.

You will recall that "I caught No. 12 (or 13) to the Piazza Michelangelo."

The low-angled sunlight of 8:20 AM made David's rippled body more magnificent even than usually depicted in art books.

He overlooked a nearly empty parking lot this Sunday morning though at his foot were parked three old motorcycles, a Honda CB500 four of about 1970 vintage, an equally old Kawasaki, and a 175cc Moto Perugina, fully restored and gleaming in red and black paint.  It was the first of that make I have ever seen.  Have you heard of it before?  I found its owner nearby, and from him learned that by 9:00 the lot would be filled with classic motorcycles, as the Classic Motorcvcle Club of Florence was meeting there for a day's Tuscan tour.  I took myriad pictures, and groked with a number of Italian soulmates.
Legendary Bike: A Vincent Black Shadow

There are spectacular views of Florence and the famous bridges across River Arno from the piazza, so I decided to bring Klaus and Shirl and Alex up here on our way out of town.  I snapped pictures of the city in the morning light, then began my stroll home to the Hotel Duca D'Aosta.  It was a gorgeous morn.  The city revealed the architectural grace that we had studied in our classes at Amherst, and I hope that my camera's eye will prove to have done it justice. 

I walked from the Arno on a line guided by the dome of Il Duomo, from which I was confident I could locate the hotel.  In the Piazza Duomo, I stopped to consider my street map.  As I studied it, a voice asked in excellent English, "Precisely where are you hoping to go?"  I turned to see on my left a tall man of fifty-or-so.  I said, "Via Fiume, the Hotel Duca D'Aosta."  He took my map, studied it briefly, then pointed to our position.  "You are precisely here, and your hotel is precisely there."  (That was no great feat, as the position of the hotel I had already marked.)  "Where did you learn such fine English?"  I asked him.  "Are you Italian?"  "I am Michael the Crazy," he replied.  "It is an honorable title," I countered, "How did you earn it?"  "I was in the military," he said.  "Which military?"  "Do you have time for a coffee?" he asked.  "I have only a few minutes," I said, "my family is waiting at the hotel."  "Two minutes," said Michael, leading me to a nearby cafe.  Michael the Crazy ordered us coffee, and paid for it.  He stood, but I said, "I have five minutes, shall we sit?"  We went inside and took a small table.

"I am Romanian," said Michael.  I said, "Buna ziua, Mihai."  He said, "You know Romanian?"  "PuČ›in," I said, "You were in the Romanian Army?"

Michael continued: "I was in the Air Force, initially.  At first I trained in jet fighters.  I flew the last of the big Yakovlevs."  He gave the model, but I missed it.  "But after one year I had an accident, a landing gear broke, and I was injured.  So, I was then in the Army."  "When did you leave the military?"  "In 1996."  "I hope you did not have to shoot anyone during the Revolution," I said, wondering if that might be the cause of his anguished self-image.  "No," he said.  "It was strange.  We were in the Special Forces, and on 18 December we were assembled, and told to go home the next day.  Then, on the 21st was the Revolution [and the Ceausescus were deposed and executed]."  "So I take it you are among those who believe that it was more a coup than a revolution?" I asked.  "It was not a revolution," said Michael.

"So, your name is Mihai?" I asked.  "Yes."  "And from where do you come in Romania?" "From the Northeast, the far Northeast."  "Bucovina?"  "Between Bucovina and Moldavia, it is called Iasi."  "I have seen Iasi," I said, "A fashionable city..., with beautiful women."

"Did you learn your English in Iasi?" I asked.  "They expected us to learn everything," he said.  I was not surprised by that.  It is consistent with my view of Romanian elementary and secondary education. 

"But, I shot a little girl..., twice," he said.  "That is why I left the army."  "I am sorry," I said.  "In Bosnia," he continued.  "She had only ten years.  And in her sack she had only six potatoes and two carrots."  Mihai's eyes dampened.  "I do not think you are a bad man," I said.  "Soldiers are good men," he said.

I contemplated introducing Shirl and Alex to Michael the Crazy, but he said he had to go to a village 35 Km from Florence, so the conversation ended there.  I followed the directions of Michael the Crazy, and quickly found the hotel.

At noon, the lot at Piazza Michelangelo was packed with cars and tour buses, the Piazza filled with tourists from around the world and a wedding party shooting pictures.   I was glad to have seen it shortly after dawn.

We programmed Roma into the GPS, which promptly led us down a narrow, steep, walled and mostly unpaved cowpath of a street down the backside of the hill, toward the Autostrada.  Klaus got a little muddy, but as Shirl said, it probably made him feel good to be back to touring, Romania-style.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Out of the Clouds

Friday: Rose in cloudy Chur, Switzerland and drove to sunny Bergamo, Italy.  We were fortunate to find the great little 16-room Berg Hotel *** for a good price, replete with Internet, breakfast and air conditioning.  We took a side trip to see the Moto Guzzi factory in Mandello di Lario, but were about an hour too late for a tour.  On the way there, Klaus saved our bacon with an instantaneous lane change under severe braking from autostrada speed.  (He does such things well, as we'd learned back in October of 2008 in Moldavia.)  At the factory we met a security guard (Marco S.), and made a friend.  Marco is degreed in economics, and hopes to come to America to visit, if not to work one day.  (Come ride with me in NH, Marco.  Several old bikes are available.)

So far Italy is charming, hot and traffic-ridden.

Saturday we shall head for Venice, via the romantic Verona, setting of Romeo and Juliet.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Alte Kelter - Fellbach

The volcanic ash cloud stayed away from our path, and British Airways cabin crews showed no sign of striking on Tuesday.  Both of our flights ran on time.  Heathrow was its usual pain, but aside from that, and my forgetting the gifts I bought there (for the Schmid family of Fellbach) in the overhead bin of the Stuttgart flight, all went well yesterday.  We have arrived in Germany.

We are staying at the Alte Kelter Hotel and Restaurant on Kelterweg in Fellbach, where we are only three houses down from Dietmar's and Sabine's home.  The Schmids have been wonderful to us, as always.  Ferdi and Max are now 13 and 17, and could not be finer young gentlemen.  We spent the days partly in frustration as we tried to add Euros to our Romanian cell phone accounts, only to learn that we could not buy a 15-Euro Vodaphone card in Germany and apply it to our Romanian phones.  At the Vodaphone store, a fine young attendant named Robin recommended I buy a German SIM card, but the damned thing would not work in my Nokia bought from Vodaphone at the Polus Center in Cluj.  Robin returned my money, and finally, we accepted an old Nokia as a loaner from Max to take with us for emergency use.

On the brighter side, Alex and I had lunch today at the Schmid's favorite "asparagus place."  It was a farm where fresh asparagus is both grown and served, and it is very popular here, judging from the size of the lunch crowd that filled the entire restaurant, including the tent that extended its dining room space.  It was great food, and good to again meet Sabine's mom, Frau Merz.

Speaking of eating, the food at the Alte Kelter is very good.  Shirl especially likes their dessert of chocolate and vanilla mousses, accompaned with assorted chopped fruits, mandarin oranges, and topped with a strawberry sauce and whipped cream.  Shirl has ordered this dessert two nights in a row.

Tomorrow morning, after breakfast here at the hotel with Max, we shall head for the Alps.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Being Fair to "The Fairest College"

I am today quite proud of Amherst College and her president Tony Marx.  The college's alumni newsletter eNews today contained a link both to the entire text of the quite critical open letter that I quoted extensively two days ago, as well as the following response from President Marx.  Moreover, we alumni have been given a forum in which to comment and to share our reactions with the readership of eNews.  Amherst has chosen the right way to address criticism.

Quoting from the linked discussion site on Amherst's web page:

President Marx’s Response

This is President Marx’s response to an Open Letter from Bill Eisen ’70 and Rob Duboff ’70.
May 12, 2010
Dear Rob and Bill,

Thank you for taking the time to write about an issue about which I care deeply.  I am grateful for the opportunity to engage the wider Amherst College community in a discussion about the values that are most important to us and the transformative power of the education students receive here.  This kind of thoughtful debate is the essence of the place.

Although your question was raised in the context of Amherst’s ongoing Lives of Consequence campaign, the phrase is actually excerpted from the opening sentence of the College’s mission statement:

Amherst College educates men and women of exceptional potential from all backgrounds so that they may seek, value, and advance knowledge, engage the world around them, and lead principled lives of consequence.

This mission was articulated through an inclusive process through which many students, faculty, alumni, parents, staff and Trustees shared their understanding of the College’s work.  The response was overwhelming and it was heartening to see how broad and deep the agreement is across various groups and generations about what brings us together on this campus and what Amherst aims to do.

The phrase “principled lives of consequence” was coined by two alumni and has been widely embraced, even though we may all define the term slightly differently. We have made a point of inviting students, faculty and staff to articulate what they think comprises a principled life of consequence, and you can hear their thoughts on our Web site as well as contribute your own.  I am heartened that few are distracted by the occasional and peripheral trappings of making a difference—wealth, fame, the approval of others. Rather, and rather interestingly, our understanding of a life of consequence is defined not by what we ourselves receive, but by what we give to others.

What I think all conceptions of the phrase have in common is simply this: that one consciously chooses to devote part of one’s life to something beyond oneself, whether through family, career or any other means. That is an open-ended ambition, but it is not a small one, and it is all too often forgotten. The College’s motto embodies it, without defining the path. That is as it should be; there is no single way to lead a life successfully.

As I talk with the seniors about to graduate in these last weeks of term, I tell them that it is the small choices we make on a daily basis—ones that may not even seem significant—that over time lead us toward that principled life of consequence to which we aspire, to a moral life.  We may choose to offer help that is needed, to continue striving for a goal after a painful setback, to be present for a child who needs our attention, to speak truth to power, or just to be honest with ourselves.  These are the kinds of choices that we work to model for our students even as we seek to teach them to define their values and ideals and try to live up to them.  I have consistently sought to make that message clear.

Amherst is an extraordinary institution in many ways, but perhaps most in the alumni it produces.  I am proud to be a member of a community that cares deeply about ideas and the world; a community that strives to do better and asks itself to examine its values often.  I will not apologize, then, for holding up as examples some of the remarkable alumni who have inspired me and many others.  What I hope you and many alumni will also do is share with us the lives you know by nominating one of your classmates or friends to have their story featured on Amherst’s Web site as a principled life of consequence—celebrating not just public accomplishment, but the more quiet and powerful forms of consequence we all aspire to at home, at work and in our communities.

Terras Irradient!

Tony Marx

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

On Preston

   Preston with Piper, shortly after he joined the family. 

The date in the photo is not correct.  The camera's calendar had never been set correctly.  This big fellow, Preston, came to live with us on August 25th, 2004, my 61st birthday.  He was a three-year old at the time, and had been living with a Massachusetts family.  They had been keeping him in a cage in their back yard, because the woman of the house was afraid that in his bouncy exuberance he might accidentally harm their newborn child.  It was not a large cage, and he was not a happy dog.  His master loved him, but had decided to put him down rather than keep him cooped up, unable to be the family friend that he clearly could have become.

I had heard of this St. Bernard-in-a-cage while visiting at my in-laws' home in Westborough, Massachusetts, at Easter time, and had said that I would love to take charge of him, if he were to become available.  On my birthday, months later, Shirl got a call from her sister: Preston was going to be euthanized the next day, unless the family could find him a good home.  At once, I put a blanket on the back seat of my Buick, and drove to Westborough.  Dick Cichowski, my brother-in-law, joined me, and we drove to Preston's home, finding him tied up to a tree in the back yard.  I took a leash, hooked it to his collar, and his master released him from the tree.

Preston made a beeline for the Buick, dragging me behind him at a run, jumped into the car, and promptly lay down on the back seat.

I had a new dog, and he had The McDougalls.

The friendship that formed that day has only deepened over the ensuing six years.  Preston adopted the McDougalls as much as we adopted him.  He became a den-mate to Sierra, to Cobi, and later to Trot.  He was smart and emotionally needy and loving and loyal.  He was friendly to our visitors, and imposing to those not quite friendly.  He was a great dog with a great heart.

Preston died last Friday, peacefully, and as all dogs should, painlessly.  He was a dog whose time had come.  But there was that day a distubance in the Force.  I feel it still, and find tears all-too-frequent, even five days later.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lives of Consequence: Fame? Fortune? Professional achievement? Morality?

My alma mater Amherst College is in the midst of a major fund-raising drive. Let me begin by stating that I support the cause. If you wish to contribute to Amherst, thank you. But, I shall not be contributing to Amherst this year, but rather to Plymouth State University, whose endowment is on the order of $4 million vs. Amherst College's $1.66 billion.

I am also most interested in the implications of Amherst's fund-raising slogan, "Lives of Consequence." Here is an excerpt from an open letter to the president of Amherst College written by two members of the Class of 1970, Bill Eisen and Rob Duboff:

"Dear President Marx;

We thank you, the faculty, the trustees and staff for having come to Boston recently to meet with us. All of you were extremely generous with your time, and the courses we attended as part of the program were stimulating and worthwhile.

While we remain grateful for this marvelous reconnection with our Amherst education, we wish to offer a different point of view from what we heard in Boston, and from what we have been reading (and hearing) from the College through the mail and on our web site. We have chosen the format of this “open letter” for our reply, because we hope that our interest might start an open dialogue within our College community.

Most specifically, we are concerned that Amherst now is urging its students to pursue “Lives of Consequence,” to the exclusion of other possibilities and goals for their lives. Perhaps “exclusion” is not what the College has intended; but the plain inference is that if one does not achieve a Life of Consequence, one has failed. This failure is profound, for a student has failed not only himself or herself, but Amherst and society, as well.

... We are concerned that Amherst may be defining what constitutes a “Life of Consequence” too narrowly, and that this may have a deleterious effect on the present students.

Let us be concrete. When you and the other Board members addressed us in Boston, you made brief reference to the stay-at-home mom, and the person who was a good neighbor----but their pictures certainly were not on the screen in the marketing video that was shown. Instead, we saw only movers-and-shakers among the vast alumni population; people who had achieved wealth and/or fame.

The message on the screen was that Lives of Consequence equals Lives of Public Accomplishment. With this as our goal, students are likely to fail; and alas, Amherst will fail in its still more important goal: to prepare its students for life.

On the College’s web site, you open your speech as follows: “The power of Amherst, the power of a great liberal arts education has…that each individual who goes on to become a leader in society can have a great impact on the lives of others; to have lives of consequence that change the possibilities for the future…that’s why Amherst has been so essential over its history and why it’s even more essential at this point going forward.”

Granted, Amherst has a responsibility, because of its privilege, to encourage its students to contribute to society, to give more than they receive----but what about the goal always to make enough time for the people who depend upon us most, whether they be partners, children, parents or friends? Shouldn’t these goals be essential to a Life of Consequence? You never even mention these aspects of a moral life.

Even at a place as grand as Amherst, only a few of us ever will have the opportunity to be leaders; to accomplish our goals, to have the public impact that we may desire. Why make it seem a failure for the many who will not quite make it? Why key the Amherst experience to this?

We believe that our College should wish something better for its students than Lives of Consequence, as presently defined. This goal may be harder to achieve, yet is clearly within the grasp of every student: A moral life. A life of always “trying to do the right thing.” A life of having the courage and wisdom
to reject our narcissistic instincts and deliberately choose not to try to have an impact on society if we realize it is more important to come home for dinner every night, for the benefit of our loved ones who have particular needs. Have we failed if we compromise our dreams, to earn a buck to secure our children’s future?"

The letter goes on to suggest not a change of the slogan, "Lives of Consequence," but a public redefinition by Amherst College of such a life.

Bravo, gentlemen! And, thank you for your courage and eloquence.