When the going gets tough, the tough take accounting. When the job market
worsens, many students figure they can’t indulge in an English or a history major. They have to study something that will lead directly to a job.
So it is almost inevitable that over the next few years, as labor markets struggle, the
humanities will continue their long slide. There already has been a nearly 50 percent drop in the portion of liberal arts majors over the past generation, and that trend is bound to accelerate. Once the stars of university life, humanities now play bit roles when
prospective students take their college tours. The labs are more glamorous than the libraries.
But allow me to pause for a moment and throw another sandbag on the levee of those trying to resist this tide. Let me stand up for the history, English and art classes, even in the face of today’s economic realities.
Studying the humanities improves your ability to read and write. No matter what you do in life, you will have a huge advantage if you can read a paragraph and discern its meaning (a rarer talent than you might suppose). You will have enormous power if you are the person in the office who can write a clear and concise memo.
Studying the humanities will give you a familiarity with the language of emotion. In an information economy, many people have the ability to produce a technical innovation: a new MP3 player. Very few people have the ability to create a great brand: the iPod.
Branding involves the location and arousal of affection, and you can’t do it unless you are conversant in the language of romance.
Studying the humanities will give you a wealth of analogies. People think by comparison — Iraq is either like Vietnam or Bosnia; your boss is like Narcissus or Solon. People who have a wealth of analogies in their minds can think more precisely than those with few analogies. If you go through college without reading Thucydides, Herodotus and Gibbon, you’ll have been cheated out of a great repertoire of comparisons.
学习人文学科会使你学到大量的比喻。人们通过比较认为——伊拉克要么像越南要么像波斯尼亚：你的老板像那喀索斯（Narcissus）或梭伦（Solon）。头脑里有大量比喻的人比那些有很少比喻的人能想得更精确。如果你上完大学却没有读过修昔底德（Thucydides）、希罗多德（Herodotus）和吉本（Gibbon），就是被蒙蔽去了一项重要的比喻才能。1 Finally, and most importantly, studying the humanities helps you befriend The Big Shaggy.
Let me try to explain. Over the past century or so, people have built various systems to help them understand human behavior: economics, political science, game theory and evolutionary psychology. These systems are useful in many circumstances. But none completely explain behavior because deep down people have passions and drives that don’t lend themselves to systemic modeling. They have yearnings and fears that reside in an inner beast you could call The Big Shaggy.
You can see The Big Shaggy at work when a governor of South Carolina suddenly chucks it all for a love voyage south of the equator, or when a smart, philosophical congressman from Indiana risks everything for an in-office affair.
You can see The Big Shaggy at work when self-destructive overconfidence overtakes oil engineers in the gulf, when go-go enthusiasm intoxicates investment bankers or when bone-chilling distrust grips politics.
Those are the destructive sides of The Big Shaggy. But this tender beast is also responsible for the mysterious but fierce determination that drives Kobe Bryant, the graceful bemusement the Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga showed when his perfect game slipped away, the selfless courage soldiers in Afghanistan show when they risk death for buddies or a family they may never see again.
这是灵魂小宇宙有害的一面。但是这种温柔的兽性也负责那种驱使着科比·布莱恩特(Kobe Bryant)的神秘而坚定的决断、底特律老虎（Detroit Tigers）的投手阿曼多·加拉拉加（Armando Galarraga）在他的完全比赛泡汤时所表现出的优雅得体的困惑、在阿富汗的士兵们在他们为了可能永远再也见不到的伙伴或家人而冒着生命危险时所表现出的无私的勇气。
The observant person goes through life asking: Where did that come from? Why did he or she act that way? The answers are hard to come by because the behavior emanates from somewhere deep inside The Big Shaggy.
Technical knowledge stops at the outer edge. If you spend your life riding the links of the Internet, you probably won’t get too far into The Big Shaggy either, because the fast, effortless prose of blogging (and journalism) lacks the heft to get you deep below.
But over the centuries, there have been rare and strange people who possessed the skill of taking the upheavals of thought that emanate from The Big Shaggy and representing them in the form of story, music, myth, painting, liturgy, architecture, sculpture, landscape and speech. These men and women developed languages that help us understand these yearnings and also educate and mold them. They left rich veins of emotional knowledge that are the subjects of the humanities.
It’s probably dangerous to enter exclusively into this realm and risk being caught in a cloister, removed from the market and its accountability. But doesn’t it make sense to
spend some time in the company of these languages — learning to feel different emotions, rehearsing different passions, experiencing different sacred rituals and learning to see in different ways?
Few of us are hewers of wood. We navigate social environments. If you’re dumb about The Big Shaggy, you’ll probably get eaten by it.
BEIRUT, Lebanon — Mazen, a carpenter who organizes protests against President in a suburb of Damascus, , has torn down the posters of , the leader of , that once decorated his car and shop.
Like many Syrians, Mazen, 35, revered Mr. Nasrallah for his confrontational stance with Israel. He considered
Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group and political party, as an Arab champion of the dispossessed, not just for its Shiite Muslim base but for Sunnis like himself. But now that Hezbollah has stood by Mr. Assad during his deadly yearlong crackdown on the uprising against his rule, Mazen sees Hezbollah as a sectarian party that supports Mr. Assad because his opponents are mainly Sunnis. “Now, I hate Hezbollah,” he said. “Nasrallah should stand with the people’s revolution if he believes in God.” Mr. Nasrallah’s decision to maintain his critical alliance with Syria and its attempts to build pan-Islamic ties in Lebanon and the wider Arab world.
Though Hezbollah’s base in Lebanon remains strong, it runs an increasing risk of finding itself isolated, possibly caught up in a sectarian war between its patron, Iran, the region’s Shiite power, and Saudi Arabia, a protector of Sunni interests in the Middle East. Its longtime ally, , the militant group, has distanced itself from the Assad government, moving its headquarters out of Damascus, and Sunni revolutionaries in Syria have explicitly denounced Hezbollah as an enemy. At home, its Lebanese rivals sense a rare opportunity to erode its power.
In a delicate adjustment in the face of these new realities — and the resilience of the uprising — Hezbollah has
shifted its tone. , Mr. Nasrallah gently but firmly signaled that Mr. Assad could not crush the uprising by force and must lay down arms and seek a political settlement. He implicitly acknowledged the growing moral outrage in the wider Muslim world at the mounting death toll, obliquely noted that the Syrian government was accused of “targeting civilians” and urged Mr. Assad to “present the facts to the people.”
Behind the scenes, Mr. Nasrallah personally tried to start a reconciliation process in Syria early in the uprising and is now renewing those efforts, said Ali Barakeh, a Hamas official involved in the talks.
“He refuses the killing for both sides,” said Mr. Barakeh, the Beirut representative for Hamas.
Mr. Barakeh said that Mr. Nasrallah visited Damascus in April of last year and briefly persuaded Mr. Assad to try to reach a political solution, with Hezbollah and Hamas acting as mediators. But as Hamas began reaching out to fellow Sunni Muslims in the opposition, the plan was scuttled by the Syrian government.
Hezbollah rarely allows official interviews and has refused them for months. But supporters and current and former party activists suggest that the situation is fueling fears of an anti-Shiite backlash and is testing loyalists who must explain the party’s position to others, and themselves. Mr. Nasrallah is tempering his position because he wants to avoid asking supporters to endure another war, said a former student activist who spends hours defending the
party on Facebook, arguing, for example, that rogue forces, not Mr. Assad, are responsible for the “mistakes.”
Mr. Nasrallah “doesn’t want supporters to suffer,” said the woman, who works at a Hezbollah foundation, adding that some still feel “broken inside” from the 2006 war with Israel and “don’t want more pressure.”
Syria’s conflict is testing Hezbollah’s longstanding
contradictions. It relies on public support, yet sometimes behaves autocratically; it is a national group founded to fight Israel’s occupation of southern Lebanon, but owes its military might — and the funds that rebuilt the south after the 2006 war — to Iran’s desire to project power; and it styles itself pan-Islamic, but it depends on rock-solid support from Lebanese Shiites for whom it won
long-denied power as it became the Middle East’s most formidable militant group and Lebanon’s strongest political force.
Most of all, Hezbollah won respect by sticking to its principles, even among rival sects and the leftist cafe regulars in Beirut who are skeptical of its religious
conservatism. Now it is paying a price for its politics of pragmatism in Syria.
To a young, college-educated health care worker who is a lifelong supporter of Hezbollah, the party’s support of Mr. Assad keeps faith with the most important principle of all: opposing Israel.
“This revolution is not made in Syria,” she told friends at a seaside cafe in Sidon, Lebanon, after shopping at a shiny new mall. “The real target is Lebanon and the resistance.” Echoing the party line, she said that the United States and its Arab allies fomented Syria’s revolt to punish Hezbollah for fighting the Israelis in 2006.
But that argument has frayed. Hamas, unable to disown Syria’s Sunni revolutionaries, declared itself neutral, angering Mr. Assad, and then moved its leadership from Damascus. Some Hamas leaders from Gaza went further, praising the Syrian revolution to crowds that shout, “No, no, Hezbollah.”
Deprived of Hamas’s political cover, Hezbollah has been accused of sectarian hatred, and has been its target as well. Syrian rebels have burned the Hezbollah flag, claimed that
its snipers are killing civilians in Syria, and named their brigades after historic warriors who defeated Shiites in Islam’s early schismatic battles. Early on, some analysts thought that if a Sunni government would arise in
Damascus it might support Hezbollah against Israel. But now, says Michael Wahid Hanna of the Century
Foundation, Hezbollah may have missed a chance to hedge its bets.
Hezbollah’s supporters, none of whom wished to be identified because the party discourages interviews with reporters, framed their fears in sectarian terms. One
worried that if Sunnis came to power in Syria, they would bar Shiites access to shrines there and in Iraq, as
prophesied in a Shiite text. Another supporter thought Sunni extremists might bomb Hezbollah areas.
Hezbollah seems in no danger of losing its most hard-core supporters. But some of its loyalists have questions.
In the Sidon cafe, the health worker declared that Syrians, with free education and medical care, had no reason to rebel. Her friend, a Shiite from Hezbollah’s heartland in
southern Lebanon, disagreed. “They have things,” she said, “but they are fighting for their rights.”
A supporter in the Dahiya, Hezbollah’s Beirut stronghold, said that Al Jazeera, the television news network, was faking atrocities and blaming the government for them. A friend mocked him: Mr. Assad’s fall would be bad for Shiites, he said, but he is “slaughtering his people.”
A Hezbollah party member said that government shelling had killed many civilians, but it was justified because the victims had let the rebels use their houses “as bunkers.” Israel used a similar argument, which Hezbollah condemned, to defend its bombing of Hezbollah
neighborhoods in 2006.
Mr. Barakeh of Hamas suggested that Hezbollah’s leaders, who prize their reputations for morality, were troubled by the “killing of innocents” on both sides and knew that the government was not blameless. “They are aware,” he said. He said he spoke with Mr. Nasrallah for five hours on March 9, telling him that neither side could win by force. On March 14, Hezbollah again blessed Hamas’s efforts to engage the opposition through its contacts in the Muslim
Brotherhood, the pro-Hezbollah newspaper Assafir reported.
The next day, as Mr. Assad insisted that the rebels stop shooting first, Mr. Nasrallah called on all Syrians — “people, regime, state, army” — to lay down their arms “simultaneously.”
He later called for “serious and genuine” reforms. Citing religious, “pan-Arab and moral considerations,” he said a political solution was the duty of all “whose hearts are throbbing with sympathy for the Syrian people — men, women, children and elderly.” It was a dig at Saudi Arabia for trying to arm the rebels, but also nodded at regional anguish over the killing.
Even for Hezbollah loyalists who call Syria’s revolt foreign-inspired, the idea of revolution has a natural resonance.
“Arab people need to wake up,” the former student activist said at her office. “How do you spend your day, Arab guy? Watching Lady Gaga. Smoking argileh,” the traditional water pipe.
She fantasized about a “clean and pure” revolution in the Arab world. “If it was real, if it was really the people’s will,” she said, “it wouldn’t just be good, it would be great.”＋ 更多类似范文