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You and I live in charmed circumstances.

The very lifestyle you were born into has afforded you the ability to attend this University, to pick up the very paper you hold right now and see these words I have written for you to read. In comparison to most of the world, we are all very lucky to be where we are today.

Strangely, despite it all, despite the air conditioning, the latest technology from Apple and all the gourmet coffee we can drink, I cannot ignore the undertone of desperate disconnect and unhappiness in this affluent world, in this University/city/state/nation you and I share.

Marriages are failing, isolation grows and people are becoming more and more inept at basic human interaction. We continue to pay an emotional price for having more and doing less.

Yet, in the ever-false façade of the American dream, I see more and more cracks forming, more and more plaster falling away to reveal the raw, emotional, beating heart that lies beneath.

That heart is strong, and it is beautiful. It is the heart that provides for love, compassion, honor, generosity and everything else worth preserving in the human condition.

But that heart has been abused, ignored, even forgotten, because of years of material prosperity, ill-fated conflict, cold war, terrorism and the constant fear that at one point, at any point, our lives could be taken away in an instant.

Fear, hate, greed and apathy have corroded the quality of our lives for too long.

As young people in this country, we inherited a system of government, a culture and a society we did not ask for. We did not ask for poverty, for massive debt or low-quality education, for broken homes or emotional immaturity. It has been handed to us.

But we have our youth, and we cannot allow our collective hearts to become embittered, as has happened to generations before. The future is bright, and the distance between the desperation of the present and the enlightenment of tomorrow is much less than it appears.

The aim of my column this semester is to offer a questioning of the deeper aspects of our collective experience — the questions about life that I have found no extant four-year university can inspire.

If we really are the future of this country, it is reliant upon us, and only us, to arm ourselves — not with weapons, but with the required intellect and emotional maturity to handle the rapid changes that will confront all of our futures.

And in this task, I hope I may be of service.

Alex can be reached by e-mail at

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