When people are gunning down elementary schools and bank executives are making millions at the expense of families, it is said we are living in a Godless age.

Maybe it is more accurate to say the times have become Vonnegut-less.

Today marks the six-year anniversary of satirist Kurt VonnegutÕs death. Known for his signature bushy mustache, dark humor and irreverent tone, he was one of our nationÕs most celebrated writers, and no stranger to controversy.

Many of his books were incidentally banned, including his most famous, ÒSlaughter House Five.Ó Critics have dismissed his work as cynical and he may never get a place in NortonÕs Anthology of Literature.

Despite this, we would like to state that as college students about to inherit an increasingly scary world, we need Mr. Vonnegut now more than ever.

We need him because for someone who could so easily thumb his nose at conventional religion, KurtÕs work is actually saturated with a morality. A morality that suggests we find the basic decency in people and treat them well, if only because thatÕs just the right thing to do.

Consciously or not, VonnegutÕs influence permeates UVM culture. It doesnÕt take a genius to recognize that our demographic leans largely leftward, is decidedly pacifist, and, while religious participation among students may be marginal, most might agree with Kurt that practicing art is a Ògood way to make your soul grow.Ó

UVM might also appreciate this fact: Vonnegut participated in the Rock and Roll Hall of FameÕs 2004 traveling exhibit ÒThe Greatest Album Covers That Never Were.Ó KurtÕs album? An imaginary Phish album titled, ÒHook, Line and Sinker.Ó

Graphic and literary achievements aside, itÕs KurtÕs philosophy that is worth remembering today:

ÒThereÕs only one rule I know of, babiesÑ God damn it, youÕve got to be kind.Ó

In celebration of a life characterized by war, death, madness, comedy and hope, we urge our readers on this day to remind themselves that even in the face of certain doom, weÕre in this together. No one, Vonnegut reminded us, is ever alone.

In his 1966 introduction to ÒMother Night,Ó Kurt stated that we are who we pretend to be, so we must be careful with what we pretend to be.

Maybe we would all be better people if we pretended to be a little more like him. Rest easy, Kurt. We miss you.