By: Brandon Lee
Sep 23 2010
"We are people of this generation, bred in at least modest comfort,
housed now in universities, looking uncomfortably to the world we
inherit," opens the Port Huron statement, the document which would
become the founding proclamation of Students for a Democratic Society in 1962.
Unlike the youth of the 1960s, our generation now does not reflect a
discontent with the calamity of the world we will inherit. The
modern student is lost in intoxicated fun, continuous consumption,
and a blind belief in a compensated future. As students, we must do
more to oppose injustice in every form we see and halt business as usual.
Business is ugly. Over 150 million gallons of oil will have unknown
consequences for marine life for generations in the Gulf. And combat
troops pull out of Iraq, not Afghanistan, as robot weapons fly over
the Middle East and the US-Mexico border. One million gallons of oil
seeped into the Kalamazoo River along with another leak near Chicago
this past Saturday at the hands of Enbridge Energy Partners. The
multi-national mining behemoth, Rio Tinto/Kennecott, is looming
catastrophe over sacred public lands and water ways in our
backyard. And there is a sale on something at the mall.
This is a taste of the crisis in our mode of existence today and it
is outrageously real.
This needs to be stopped. The world and her inhabitants are being
killed and the ones making money from the spectacle have
immunity. We are the benefactors of this beautiful Earth that is
rapidly becoming an industrial wasteland in constant resource wars,
yet we do not act.
The insurrectionary desire of students to challenge, resist, and
change the established order is absent. Activism is for the activists
and anarchists outside the G8, unless it's joining a Facebook
group. And this absence of action against injustice and violence
brings me to a troubling diagnosis: the modern college student is
inflicted with apathy.
Why does anything have to threaten my existence when I have comfort
behind screens, gas for my car and food in the cafeteria?
Consumer-oriented apathy has domesticated our sense of love and
rage. The spectacle of consumerism has fizzled out any burning
momentum to stand up for the Earth and peace. We only aim to make it
through this institution with a degree and minimal debt only to be
institutionalized into a stable job.
Student activism is as American as the Boston Tea Party, and past
student movements that broke out of apathy and stood up to power
revealed a force to be reckoned with. The students of America
protested war and demanded direct democracy. The students of the
South organized for civil rights and challenged oppression in many
forms. And they did this by dreaming of days of love, not violence,
then took their dreams to the street into occupations of public
spaces and into literature to be dispersed among their peers. In
their action, they found that their desires could become reality, and
we have some desires that are awaiting reality if we want.
I want no war. I want no oil in oceans and rivers. I want the
Yellow Dog Watershed and Lake Superior to remain pristine. And I am
willing to struggle for a peaceful, healthy Earth because all life
that shares this planet is in peril, a peril that we tolerate with
our inactive silence.
We have nothing to lose but war, environmental degradation, and
shallow consumerism. We have a world of pleasure and an Earth-loving
way of living to win.