Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Rare Opportunity and a Great Responsibility

A postscript to the previous posting—"What It Must Be Like to Teach in North Korea"

On Being Given a Rare Opportunity and a Great Responsibility—Thoughts Near the End of the Year

As I've previously noted on this site, I receive up to a thousand emails a month commenting on my blog postings. Like the writer of the letter included in the previous posting (available in the right-hand menu: "What It Must Be Like to Teach in North Korea"), almost all of the people who write me express shock and dismay at the way I have been treated by Boston University administrators—and many of them commiserate with what they imagine to be my “terrible” or “awful” situation.

Of course I am grateful for the expressions of sympathy and understanding, but I want to make clear to blog readers that though I have indeed been treated unethically and unconscionably by Boston University administrators, my life is not terrible or awful. I love, love, love my job. Really. I give thanks to God every day for blessing me with the opportunities I have—the chance to do important things with young people (what could be more exciting than the shaping of minds, hearts, and souls?); the chance to work with students in the classroom exploring the supreme creations of the human spirit; the opportunity in my free time to pursue my passions to the end—to write articles, essays, and books about some of the great artistic works of the past and present; the chance to speak to people around the world about art—and academic values. I can’t imagine a better job or a more important and exciting way to spend my life. I have truly been blessed, and continue to be blessed to be given the opportunity to do the things I do.

And part of the wonder and the joy, believe it or not, is that I have been given the opportunity to make these blog postings and to make the friends I have made through them. As I note in the entry listed under June 2014 (available in the right-hand menu): "A Summary: Ten Years at Boston University," these public postings were far from my first-choice of thing to do. I embarked on them very uncertainly and with a large degree of trepidation. In fact, I did everything I possibly could to avoid being forced to take this step. But everything I did to avoid making them failed. The postings were forced upon me both by the fact that Boston University administrators banned and suppressed my official faculty web site (ending all postings in that forum, and distinguishing me as very likely the only university faculty member in America to have his official faculty web site banned, censored, and suppressed by his university), and by the complete and utter refusal of Boston University administrators, at every level, from my Department Chairman to the President of the University, to respond to a single one of the numerous reports of ethical misconduct and professional misbehavior I filed for more than six years prior to making my first blog posting. In short, I only, very reluctantly and extremely belatedly, began these postings after years of attempts to work, confidentially and privately, "within the system." I did everything in my power to avoid going public in this way. But what an extraordinary opportunity they have provided me, to connect with other academics in similar situations and with students and aspiring students around the world. What a lucky, exciting surprise that has been.

I have been given a rare opportunity and a great responsibility—the chance to speak out about, and defend, the kind of intellectual and ethical issues this blog deals with. I know it’s not curing cancer or bringing peace to the Middle East, but may everyone have a chance to fight a battle at least this important. I have been given the chance to articulate and defend important academic principles. I have been given the chance to restore ethical conduct to the university I teach in. I am defending academic freedom in a university that doesn’t understand the concept. I am fighting for the good of Boston University students. And for the benefit of future faculty members, and current faculty who are in too precarious a position to speak up and say the kinds of things I am saying. I am doing it for future generations of students and faculty members. What a chance this is. What a miracle that I am able to do it. I’m so blessed to have this opportunity. I don’t need anyone’s pity or sorrow. I have the best and most exciting life I could ever imagine.—Ray Carney