Where is Our Fight?

Where is Our Fight?

Let's Stop Rolling Over

As I walked by Logan Square I saw a few war protestors holding signs against the war. One was ringing a cow bell and another was wearing a "Marriage is a human right, not a heterosexual one" and talking animatedly to a passerby. I was struck, not by their hippie chic attire-they all had thoroughly worn clothing on-but by their age, the youngest person there looked to be early 50's. Then it hit me, a deep and unending pain in my heart, young people just don't care anymore. What happened to our chutzpah? After September 11th there were crazy rallies against the war for oil and the invasion of Iraq. People were loud and shared their disgust with how everything was going. One year later people were still affected by the war and on the anniversary of September 11th many networks refused to air commercials. People were loud and crazy about what was going on in other countries. No to genocide! Not to the war! No to big box stores! No to oil! No to SUVs! And yet, whenever I see larger protests going on or read about those that are standing up for our rights, the revolutionaries are always middle aged. Less and less younger people are joining the fight or just plain fighting.

Don't get me wrong, they "like" Facebook fan pages about political movements, heck they may even leave a comment a two, but they aren't showing up in record numbers to show that they care. Back in the sixties and seventies people where fighting about giving peace a chance and equal rights. Many of the things we take for granted were created during that time, to name a few: public access channels, Medicaid, welfare, health services at schools. Now that we are losing programs thanks to the aging baby boomer filled government all the youth doesn't seem to care. They aren't uniting in large numbers or even doing anything outside of whining about what is happening. I remember this legend in my high school that made me sad. Back in the early 1970's the school district decided that junk food was bad for children, so they took away all pop, ice cream, and junk food machines. No, they did not ask the opinion of the actual students, but as usual adults felt they had the best interest of the children in mind. The week after they took the machines out of the cafeteria a funny thing happened, 98% of all the students showed up with sack lunches and did not buy hot lunch from the school. A student representative handed out flyers stating that they were taking a stand against what the school did without their permission. It was their right to decide whether or not to buy sugary snacks or pop with their lunches. They would not eat at the cafeteria until their rights (the vending machines) were restored. Even after the cafeteria stand told the principal what was going on and how few student bought food from them he did not relent. He didn't mention a thing to the school district because he thought they would give up soon enough. In the first week the same people brought their lunch every day and did not buy even milk from the school. The second week a few people waned so only about 90% of all the students brought their lunches.

Then another week saw a 5% drop, but by that point the school district was involved. The amount of money they were losing to spoiled food and loss of profits would hurt the school much sooner then they believed the students would relent. So what did the school district do? They brought back all the vending machines after talking to the student group who initiated the cafeteria strike. As I heard this story-from a school counselor no less- I was excited and exhilarated! "Wow, the people in MY school banded together for that. Amazing," I thought. Then I realized we did not have an ice cream vending machine anymore, so what if I tried to do the same thing? Since my freshman year the school had slowly been phasing out the vending machines, so now that I was a senior it was the perfect opportunity to make a move. I talked to other students about what an injustice it was to take away our choice and how they should bring back the soda machines they had already taken away. I tried to shake them from their apathy, but no one cared. They just believed there was nothing they could do and that a few people can not make a big difference. As I sat there listening to my fellow students tell me their reasons for not wanting to be involved in my little campaign I realized we had all gotten to comfortable. We had all taken for granted the rights that those before us had fought to give us. Now I talk to the people around me and try to get them upset about the raising gas prices and all I hear is "Gas is just expensive." I talk about the unfairness of funding in the education system and all I hear are crickets. How did we all false asleep at the wheel of life? Stay tuned for Part 2 of this article.