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November 14, 2008

My students were bored (at first) when we were studying the Armenian genocide. They told me that maybe they would care more about this catastrophe if they were Armenian. I was stunned and have spent the rest of the semester responding to this. They have helped me  realize why we need imagination to be ethical people. I remember Doris Lessing saying that writers should not write what they know, but what they imagine and that it is our responsibility to speak our nightmares and our dreams. Here is a great quote from Philip Gourevitch’s book on the Rwandan genocide. He says, “this is a book about how people imagine themselves and one another–a book about how we imagine our world.”  We have to try to understand what it is we do imagine and we need to exericise our imagination, like any muscle.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Cathy Schuyler permalink
    July 2, 2009 2:52 pm

    JK Rowling speaks eloquently on the need for imagination in order to live ethically and with justice in her Commencement address at Harvard last year, precisely because we care when we can imagine others’ lives as our own. I wasn’t there, but the text was available on-line somehow and it was excellent.

  2. July 2, 2009 8:15 pm

    Thanks, Cathy.

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