Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

Note to the Staff

Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

Note to the Staff

Article excerpt

Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird" is playing on the radio as I tool over the Bear Mountain Bridge, glancing at the half-frozen Hudson. It's February 3, the first day of my first sabbatical. I slide on the ice into a parking space. Daniel Callahan is walking out of the library. He greets me, "What brings you here?" I tell him about how I applied to be a Visiting Scholar and am ruing to write a book on persons and death. The real answer is "you."

Well, there's Dan, but also Erik and Bruce, Tom, Mary Ann, the other Mary Ann, Greg and Lori, Angela and Nancy, Chris and Lynn, Karen, Nora, Eric, Jaime, Mike, Thelma.... Over the years, the Center has become something of an intellectual home for me, and it's the "home" part that I really like. If you have a large Italian family like mine, you may have had the fun of loudly debating some political or ethical issue over a holiday meal that lasts seven hours. There are generational differences, professional expertise sometimes gets invoked, personal experience and anecdotes are exchanged, lots of humor, and sometimes the gloves are off, voices get raised, and your aunt worries about the children and tells everyone to tone it down. It is a bit like that here (maybe more civilized) when the research staff gets together for lunch. There is a familial security in feeling free to share vague intuitions, half-baked ideas, passions, interests, ignorance, and errors, as well as considered opinions and the results of one's research. …

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