“Here was a new generation … dedicated more than the last to the fear of poverty and the worship of success; grown up to find all Gods dead, all wars fought, all faith in man shaken …”
– F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise, 1920
Sadly, our lethargy is not original. We are not the first generation to count athletes as heroes, not the first to want for a noble cause. We were beat by at least 80 years by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the voice of the original dot-com generation. Our whiny excuses – We’ve got no Vietnam! – are as plain and useless as Warren G. Harding.
And this is unfortunately how we sound. We grouse because we don’t have the war, the revolution that our parents had. We’ve grown complacent, those of us born after Vietnam. Mass student protests are so far away as to be history; sit-ins and well-attended rallies are disturbingly rare. We’ve been sitting around instead, one hand on the PlayStation controller, the other, however uninspired, awaiting a sign. A more urgent television program, perhaps, telling us its time. We are, forgive me, lost also.
Meanwhile, injustice surrounds us: unfettered globalization, civil liberties subsumed by national security, a live-wire Middle East. We’re about to go to war! And we’ve reached a point now, I think, where we can be pretty certain that Spurious George isn’t going to back down from his threats to invade Iraq. Even the war’s most livid critics seem resigned to its inevitability.
But if the war is so inevitable, why are we waiting until it happens to begin protesting? Why aren’t we indignant? Why are we not in the streets already? It would not be, I suspect, inaccurate to assume that large portions of the Ann Arbor and University communities oppose a war in Iraq, especially if conditions remain as they are. Yet, we continue to bide our time, waiting for bombs to go off before we act.
Sometime in the last 20 years activism has become pass