Engaging With Empathy, Understanding, For Equitable Peace During Conflict


Engaging With Empathy, Understanding, For Equitable Peace During Conflict

UVA Grounds

he shocking, sickening wave of barbaric violence now consuming the Middle East provides an all-too-painful reminder of UVA’s connection to the world, straining our values of community, tolerance, and respect as we struggle to understand how this could happen in a region that tightly binds us through ties of family, friends, and faith.  So many of us are repulsed by Hamas’s murderous attacks on 1,400 largely civilian victims in Israel on October 7, and mourn the rapidly mounting losses of thousands more innocent lives in the humanitarian disaster now unfolding in Gaza.

The deepening conflict has awakened fear in our community – of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and of speaking out or asking difficult questions – a fear that corrodes our University’s core aspiration of following truth wherever it might lead in an atmosphere of peaceful, free inquiry.

During these difficult times, it is important to rededicate ourselves to the values that make this University great and good by caring for those in our community who are most traumatized by these events; creating safe spaces for empathy, mutual understanding, and free inquiry into the history of this conflict and the search for an equitable peace; and respecting the right of all to express their views civilly and peacefully without fear of reprisal. 

The University is hosting a number of academic events that are open to all in the community to explore multiple aspects of the conflict; please check our website for regular updates and attend them if you can.  The Center for Teaching Excellence offers support for faculty on how best to engage students on these complicated and sensitive issues.  In addition, our Center for Global Inquiry and Innovation here on Global Grounds will host informal discussion sessions among interested faculty in the coming weeks to share thoughts on how best to carry out our educational mission in the current climate – please contact us at [email protected] if you would like to participate.

These terrible events are a potent reminder that we are inextricably linked to the wider world.  We have no choice but to improve our ability to engage with it, understand it, and, as in the ancient Judaic and Islamic concepts of tikkun olam and sadaqa, apply that knowledge to repair it and improve the lives of others.  UVA Global is committed to support supporting that mission through the University’s growing global engagement, and hope you will join us.

Stay Global!

Ambassador Stephen Mull

Ambassador Stephen Mull is Vice Provost of Global Affairs.