People should speak up; change is needed

By David Conard

There’s been a lot of words spent on our generation’s world view. What some people call idealism, others call foolishness. What some see as apathy, others see as practicality.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot since I saw the anti-war demonstration Nov. 2 at King Memorial Commons, which was organized by College Democrats. About 60 people showed up to hear varied speakers such as U.S. Congress Democratic candidate John Laesch, NIU history professor Paul Street, Kevin Malone of the NIU College Democrats and others.

“There should be many, many more people here,” said Jayne Crosby, a first-year student at large, in the Nov. 3 issue of the Northern Star. “This is a pretty sad turnout for something so important.”

She might have a point. According to an Oct. 13 Pew Research Center poll, “Half of Americans now say the decision to use military force in Iraq was wrong, up from 44 percent last month.”

Shouldn’t that mean half of NIU should be in the MLK Commons protesting? Even if only one-tenth of that percentage of NIU’s campus showed up, it would mean an attendance of hundreds.

Jim Luebke, a DeKalb resident who attended the protest, who worries about the effects of apathy said, “Kids need to get off the couch and pay attention,” he said. “You lose democracy by apathy. Just look at what happened in Germany.”

Others thought the anti-war protest was as useless as doing nothing. Senior finance major Jeremy Lorenz, a self-identified Republican who went to the rally, seemed to think so.

“This is as far as they are going to make it,” Lorenz said. “All Democrats do is protest.”

Lorenz added that when a person is young, they are generally Democrats because they are stupid, and people generally become Republicans when they get older.

That’s kind of extreme, but he might be right about one thing. It seems to me that when people age, they tend to become more conservative, more willing to accept things as they are. Since the Republican party tends to be more conservative, maybe that’s why Lorenz sees more older voters being Republican.

Yet our generation cannot lose its desire to change things. If you are conservative, it means you are mostly satisfied with the way things are.

But I think it’s pretty clear there are many things Americans should not be satisfied with. The war in Iraq just keeps drifting without end, killing more than 2,000 of this nation’s soldiers. The governmental response to Hurricane Katrina was a disaster.

At this moment in history, Americans cannot afford to be satisfied with the way things are. If it leads us to do nothing, it is the same as not caring.

As one of our greatest presidents, Franklin Delano Roosevelt said in 1939, another time of trouble, “A Conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward … A Liberal is a man who uses his legs and his hands at the behest-at the command-of his head.”

Roosevelt came from a rich family. He had every reason to be satisfied with how things were. Yet he defied many conservative voices to create Social Security, a program that has safeguarded the retirement of millions of Americans.

It is time again for Americans to shake loose their complacency. As rally attendee senior sociology major Jenny Gilley said, “People are dying and we can’t wait.”

I was inspired by Gilley, listening to her talk about organizing “Food Not Bombs” campaigns, providing child care for single mothers and renovating houses for homeless shelters.

America needs more inspiration, not apathy or contentment.

Columns reflect the opinion of the author and not necessarily that of the Northern Star staff.