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Youth Inaction

I post this article from the Indypendent on my dormitory door every year. The article is a review of a this book, but it’s not the review or the book that shouts to me as I dig out my keys and unlock the door.  It’s the headline of the article: “Academia In Action: Get Out of the Library and Into the Streets.”

A riot is at bottom the language of the unheard.

I think about the riots from academics that happen around the world and then look at my own campus.  My campus does not congregate around a cause.  The same people who run the offices of one organization hold positions in the others. Student leaders find themselves burnt out by their junior year because she is running the organization single-handedly or he has filled positions in too many organizations. There are too few students interested in enacting change. We are a youth of inaction.

An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.

One night at dinner I talked to friends who are upset with the college’s requirement of volunteer service hours and how “there aren’t enough activities to fill those hours.” Exasperated, I reminded them that I spend most of my time setting up volunteer opportunities with students and while they are sleeping, students are with Circle-K on Saturday mornings volunteering. There are too few students that find volunteering rewarding or feel a sense of responsibility to give back to the community.

I remember being angry when students worried only about their stuff stored on campus, rather than the submerged city, during the flood. I had some forgiveness and assumed the students would realize the greater impact of the flooding once the school year was in session. I was sorely disappointed. Students remained completely unaware of all the destruction – the ruined historical landmarks, the newly homeless, and a loss of a downtown community. No one cares. Hardly anyone wants to help. We are a youth unable to see consequences of an event.

When our campus decided to expand and offered a limited-time view of the proposed campus layout, a few campus leaders saw it, balked, and started drilling the administration with questions.  In a rare chance to meet and discuss with the president of the college we found out our speculation was true – we were buying up the neighborhood next to us, not to have a place for more buildings or housing, but to create a green space,  a “safety zone” much like that shown in the film, Accepted. We were creating a barrier against a neighborhood turning sour. By the graduation of the class of 2012, there won’t be any neighborhood. There will be be fenced off,  green grass. Some of us got the school newspaper involved and tried to spread the word, but the campus was apathetic – just like the campus is apathetic to this summer’s disaster. The students care more about internet access than community building,  service projects, or even a physics club that offers free ice cream on Fridays. We are a youth disinterested in justice.

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.

Our youth are not active; they are inactive.

Who will change this? I am a burnt out leader.  What is our future?  Our future is destined to be full of people who cannot see beyond the bold print and will only know what’s given to them.

Where is this generation’s cry for justice?  Why aren’t we looking for consequences of our actions? Why aren’t we looking for truth?

I don’t think we have any role models.  Who are the youth’s role models?  People who represent brands.  Marketing. We accept the truths handed to us.

God, what happened to the newspapers?  What happened to reading novels? Will this generation’s input be only from late night comedy and popular films?

Why don’t students write anymore? Have you read the grammar skills of current college students?  Of current high school students?  It’s atrocious. We’re becoming unable to express ourselves. So we turn to clothing, cellphones, laptops, etc. to define who we are.

Success, recognition, and conformity are the bywords of the modern world where everyone seems to crave the anesthetizing
security of being identified with the majority.

Who is the voice of the youth? Media.  Marketing.  Advertising. A whole different generation is dictating what we stand for.

Stand up!  Shout!  Write! Search and ask questions! Find the crack in this veneer and discover the reason, the consequences, and the truth that we don’t have anymore!

We can change and create our own identity.  We can impact the world instead of the world impacting us. So what will it be?  A youth in action or a youth of inaction?

~These are my thoughts on the day that celebrates Martin Luther King Jr, the author of the quotes in my writing and inspiration in my heart.


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