Discourse / Editorials / January 22, 2014

Thoughts from the Embers: Lexie is Knox

EmbersLast Friday, in a Kabul restaurant popular both for its Lebanese food and the feeling of security it provides amidst Afghanistan’s instability, a suicide bomb was detonated at the front gate.

Two Taliban gunmen rushed in and began shooting indiscriminately before being killed by Afghan security forces.

More than 20 lives were lost: Afghans, Russians, Britons, Canadians and Americans, including Alexis Kamerman, Knox College Class of 2008.

One would be hard-pressed to find a current Knox student who knew Lexie, as this year’s senior class arrived in 2010. Still, the story of her life has resonated not only in the national media, but on our campus.

Because even though we did not know Lexie, we know her ideals. We know what drove her — a desire to better the world, a spirit that is very much alive on this campus today.

Certainly, her death would have been tragic to us even if she weren’t a Knox student. A woman gave up the life she knew and those she loved to move halfway around the world to help women in Afghanistan receive an education, women cut down at a cruelly young age by hate and ignorance as much as by bullets. To not be moved by such a story requires a heart of stone.

But this story reaches us on a much more personal level. It may sound like a trite regurgitation of the marketing slogan that brought many of us here, but Lexie is Knox.

At some point, she opened her mailbox to find “You Are Knox” the same way we all did. She lived in the same dorms, ate in the same cafeteria, took classes with many of the same professors.

While on campus, she completed two majors, pledged a sorority, studied abroad and volunteered. At some point at Knox, she found her calling to help people.

The details of her story may be different, but her trajectory could describe some of ours. How many of us will one day find ourselves working abroad? Knox grads often work for NGOs, the Peace Corps or otherwise, and not necessarily in the safest places.

Friday’s attack is a reminder that the values we hold dear at Knox — gender equality, the importance of education, the use of non-violent measures to settle disputes — are not universally shared. These values need to be defended by people like Lexie.

Sometimes defense requires brute force. But as she showed us, a schoolbook in the right hands can be a powerful weapon.

We did not know Alexis Kamerman, and now we never will. But simply look around this campus, and you’ll see what the world has lost in her.

Tags:  Afghanistan Alexis Kamerman Knox lexie kamerman remembrance suicide bomb taliban You Are Knox

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