Quiet student cynics no match for hippies

ReAnne Utemark

I just saw “Across the Universe.” It is a bit stereotypical in using Beatles music to tell a story about the tumultuous 1960s, in particular, the Vietnam War. That did not stop me from buying the movie from the same video store that I rented it from; the movie is great.

In any case, the same day I read an article in the Guardian that wondered where the rage in young people went. Publications, politicians and lay people have compared Iraq to Vietnam for a variety of reasons. So, where are the signs? Where are the flowers in the ends of police guns? Where are the kids sitting down to protest, well, anything?

Admittedly, there are different ways of protesting now, including blogs. It is a way of getting one’s word out to potentially millions of people, though I am not sure how much impact it has. This might be a good point to stop and explain that this editorial does not advocate the throwing of bricks or something else violent toward “The Man.” However, it does advocate doing something more than sitting around complaining about the situation, like, “There’s nothing to do in Topeka.”

The reason I say that blogging is less effective than being out, meeting people and doing things is similar to breaking up. It is harder to break up with someone in person than it is through the phone, e-mail or text. When you are face to face with someone there is an interaction there that cannot be replaced and is usually much more effective than doing it electronically. Of course, in the case of breaking up, you might get slapped. Hopefully “The Man” won’t slap you, but I suppose rubber bullets are always a possibility in extreme situations.

People who want to make a difference do not have to be shot with rubber bullets, stop taking showers or live in communes to really make some kind of impression. Showering is good, as a side note. They have to go out and meet the elected officials who are affecting them and actually let them know what they want to see.

It is true that many of the students at Washburn are not direct constituents of people on the city council or of the mayor, but that does not mean they should be silent in regard to the city in which they are going to spend at least four years. The students of Washburn bring in tens of thousands of dollars to Topeka merchants, in the hundreds of pizzas and beers they consume if nothing else. Students pay sales tax, they interact with the Topeka community and make a lasting impression through community service. As well, many of them stay in Topeka or the surrounding area, so there is a vested interest in the well-being of the city.

I realize that many of my columns are an attempt at motivation in some way or another. This leads me to question why aren’t students as motivated to make change as they used to be. Is it because we are too busy thinking about our future jobs, families and grad school that we cannot find time to think about the present? Maybe it is the other way around; we are too busy thinking about the test on Friday, the 30 hours we have to work this week and that our significant other will not call us back to think about the future. We’re students. We do not have major commitments to jobs and families. We can be loud and opinionated. It is what being a college student should be about: thinking and sharing that thought. Why else would you go to college? It is not just about putting in a million hours and stressing out for a piece of paper and a handshake.

You don’t have to get hemp sandals to recall the fervor of the 1960s, but a snarky bumper sticker poking fun at Bush and a blog just makes you look like a whiner.