Last Thursday evening, the former mayor of Ciudad Juarez talked to a group of Amherst students about one of the innumerable gunfights that have terrorized northern Mexico and claimed 50,000 lives. Rival drug gangs shot at each other with guns so powerful that a single bullet could punch through an armored Suburban, and then exit cleanly through the other side. The U.S. government refused to weapons to the Mexican army; the drug gangs, on the other hand, drove across the border and purchased them from U.S.

This year of the apocalypse actually began with good news about climate change. In a perfect example of soft power with an edge, the European Union decided to leverage its weight as the world’s largest economic market to compel the majority of the world’s airlines to participate in its Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). This bold move promises to both directly cut emissions, as well as provide incentive for airlines to innovate and increase their efficiency globally — and it foreshadows what could be a new approach to tackling the world’s biggest, most pressing challenge.

Apparently there is a new commandment that has been revealed unto the Republican Party. One that Jesus errantly left out of his parables and teachings and that Joseph Smith must have failed to read before he lost his special glasses or perhaps just forgot to pull out of his magic hat. It is “Thou shall hate the poor.” This new commandment dominates today’s conservative politics and discourse, reveals the turmoil at the heart of America’s public morality and shows the clear ideological choice before us.

Europe as a continent and a society didn’t just teeter on the precipice of destruction, it fell off — twice. It is from this history that the European Union has become a living dream of nonviolence and proof of the possibility of redemption, created from a cry for harmony and the necessity for coexistence.

Monday night’s Senate meeting was kind of like a black and tan drink; it started out with some heavier discussion, but moved on to lighter topics later on. With Deans Boykin-East and Nascembeni, Gretchen Krull and quite a few student visitors, we began with a forum regarding disciplinary policy and the honor code as it relates to sexual assaults on campus. Tania Dias ’13 opened the discussion with an overview of the situation and critiques of several disciplinary procedures.

For a while, George Papandreou and Antonis Samaras indirectly put Amherst at the center of the Euro crisis. Now Greece, the markets and the Eurozone have moved on to a far more troubling situation with Italy, touching French, and recently even German bond sales as well.

Aging conservatives like Newt Gingrich love to pontificate about our national need to return to the good old days circa 1950 (hey, it wouldn’t be me without one snarky political comment, but no more, I promise). But in some ways, they have a point—at times it seems we are living in an age where fear of liability reigns supreme, and causes institutions to err on the extreme side of caution at the expense of traditions and even just plain old fun stuff.