Before I realized the unique experience that is college, I had only secondary sources such as history books and Saved by the Bell: The College Years to go on. When I finally arrived, the lack of social upheaval surprised me. I could have sworn it would be like UC Berkeley in the ’60s, but I guess people just don’t do enough drugs nowadays. Sure, there were random events that seemed more like sociology seminar group projects than populated movements, but these seemed pointless or just searching for legitimacy. Whiling away the hours at a school where I’m supposed to be thinking constantly despite the fact that I run out of homework fairly easily (and I have yet to succumb to 24), an epiphany slapped me in the face: there is no legitimacy.
Some people here seem to wish we bustled about on a ’60s campus in a mire of social movement, but aspiring to mimic these characters is only aspiring to grow long hair and listen to Peter, Paul and Mary. The only things they moved were their limbs, and even those actions were very slow. These “active masses” were not representing a disillusioned majority, because the actual masses of America were fighting the war.
Students feel like they must strive for some arbitrary purpose, as the young arbiters of change in a new millennium, just because they are on a college campus. The only benefit that arises from the prospective protester’s passion for his dubious cause is the content feeling he garners from rationalizing of the world’s problems. The grass certainly isn’t getting greener. Do these types think they have a moral obligation to save the world because Batman isn’t doing it? This isn’t “The Care Bears go to College.” By picking up a piece of litter and throwing it in the proper recycling bin (malleable glass polymers ONLY), I’m not equaling the Kyoto Protocol in environmental impact. The only thing you’re saving is yourself from whatever form of damnation you fear.
They counter that they are raising awareness, but what are they raising awareness for? Take, for example, the poultry industry. Is it the dying chickens, the fact they are wearing a chicken costume, or the fact that you saw them out there championing the chicken cause? Is it for the living chickens? I didn’t realize the living chickens had it so bad sweating it out in the coop on 18-hour days for less than minimum wage. Thanks for the pamphlet. I’ll write your name on it right now so I can compliment you on your altruism next time I see you. Lobby Congress for pro-chicken legislation? No, I can’t, I have a paper due, and who gives a cockle-doodle-doo about the chickens?
That may just have appeared as me ranting about chickens, but it was really way more complex. Could it have been a satirical allegory on the futility of campus social movement? I don’t know, what’s allegory mean? Anyway, it’s not that raising awareness isn’t effective, but that there are too many factors involved in which people either forget or confuse the message. In addition, what kind of response do you expect from regular people, who have their own problems, not to mention interests, and your self image just doesn’t happen to be one of them. You’re not petitioning the Superfriends for help.
I’m not being cynical just to spite all you do-gooders either, but to help you all with your time-management skills. For example, instead of spending so much time strategizing the newest cause, you could take up a new skill. Whittling is very popular these days. All the hours you fritter away painting posters and affixing them to wooden posts could be better spent reading a book about a guy who painted some posters for a while, but then became president. That way you can learn how to skip all the painting and jump straight to molding the nation’s actions to your worldview. And if that doesn’t reconcile the fact that you are partially responsible for all the world’s problems, nothing will.
Ashwin Bhirud is a Trinity sophomore. His column appears every other Wednesday.
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