I have a class all about the 1960s. The material is interesting, considering the tumultuous times we’re discussing. The ’60s were all about protest and revolution and change. Unfortunately, those traits have not followed us into our times.
For a while, it was beginning to look like we were Generation Apathy. No one really gives a damn what goes on in the world. I do not exclude myself from this; in no way can I be considered an activist. Forty years ago, our parents were rallying for the right for blacks to vote, the right to be free of a war we had no business being in anyway and the right to freedom of speech. Nowadays, we can’t even get more than a few people to come to a parking summit — something that directly affects us. We seem to be the ones who complain, complain, complain, and yet do nothing to solve the problem.
However, there is a light in our otherwise dark hole. Lately, I have been reading about people our age staging protests about the situation with Iraq. Like I said, I am not an activist, so I haven’t witnessed these protests myself. And while I may not necessarily agree with their cause, these protesters have shown something few of us have in our lives.
They have shown guts.
No matter whether you agree with the possible attacks on Iraq, you must admit that these people have guts to be able to stand up for what they believe in, knowing that they’re in the minority. Really, the bulk of us just want revenge for the Sept. 11 attacks, and we’re not really thinking about what a war would do to us. C’mon folks, this is not 1954, a war today would not be fought with guns and tanks. Chemical and biological warfare will kill everyone, not just Saddam. But these protesters know they are not in the consensus, and they’re still taking a stand. That is commendable beyond words.
Who among us is willing to stand and be recognized for being unpopular? These people, these protesters, who just want us to sit up and hear the other side of the argument — they are willing. As the rest of us barrel down Dubya’s path to I-don’t-know-what, these protesters are simply trying to get us to understand a different view of things. Didn’t someone once say the opposing view is not your enemy but your friend in disguise? Protesters, in general, are willing to be spat on, disgraced and beat up, all for the sake of their cause. Civil rights workers took it all in stride, and they got what they fought for.
Not only that, but it proves to our parents (and everyone else) that we are not the materialistic, self-involved generation that it looks like we are. Disagree with me; go ahead. But you know it’s true. Our generation seems to care more about Abercrombie and Fitch, Lexus and Beverly Hills than any previous ones. How many people 18-25 years old voted in this past gubernatorial election? How many of us even knew who the gubernatorial candidates were?
My point is that in 40 years we’ve sped down this spiral path to nowhere. Generations before us stood for something (except in the ’80s). They fought for something. We, with all our ample opportunities, do nothing. And when we do decide to stand up, we’re held back by the powers that be, evidenced by the “designated area” made for protesters when President George W. Bush visited campus. More power to the people with guts enough to stand up for their views; we should be so lucky to learn from you.
Jessica Higgins is a junior majoring in mass email@example.com