I missed the protest last Wednesday. I had to work. Still, I was able to catch a glimpse of it, just before the crowd of lefties began to march towards Pioneer Square; towards freedom and new beginnings. It was there that I was joined by one of my English professors, stopping to admire the similarity of our generation’s protest to his. Signs strewn about, denoting the spirit of the anti-war campaign with slogans like “Let Iraq Live.”
“Right On” I thought, and I felt like I had participated in some small way. My professor then said something that I continue to consider, “They’re using the same old songs we used to use … the left is using a tired old rhetoric.”
I didn’t fully comprehend his statement at the time; mostly because of the awkward feeling I got in realizing that I still owed him a late paper. I’m sure the awkwardness was all mine. I brought it up sheepishly; he wasn’t as concerned as I was. Finally, on my reluctant walk back to work, I remember what he had said. “A tired rhetoric.” Was it true? I couldn’t conceive of it at first. I didn’t want to be a cynic before I’d earned it; I wanted to stay true to the movement. As I looked deeper into my protester’s soul, I found more answers.
I began to see the frivolity of re-using the same old anti-war songs. “1-2-3-4 We don’t want your stinking war.” One might’ve found the same scene in Berkeley 32 years ago. But was there something wrong with that. Well, yes. Although it may bear similarities to the conflict in Vietnam, this is not the same war. There is a completely different set of injustices being committed, and a new opposition; patriotism. No, the plight to end war hasn’t changed, but the world has, and we must evolve with it if we wish to be heard.
One thing has remained constant; the ability of students, and academia in general, is that we continue to evoke change and understanding. But we must translate this message of peace to a new generation, before their parents laugh with them about these neo-hippies being the same as the ones when they were in college. And they continue on to their business degrees, peace only ever being a word they use to say goodbye. We can’t let our classmates write us off. Let’s help them understand how pressing this issue is, and allow them to, as the hippie bumper-sticker says, “Visualize World Peace.”