Column by Sarah ’11
I’m writing this 35,000 feet above ground, flying home from a highly enjoyable visit at Oberlin College. One of the most heated topics on campus during my stay was the upcoming visit of right-wing political guru Karl Rove; Oberlin is hugely liberal. During the two days that I was at Oberlin, many students said they refused to attend Rove’s talk. They were discussing which ways to best protest Rove’s attendance once he arrived on campus.
Who can blame them? Under the so-called “Bush Regime” of the past decade, the United States became synonymous with greed, environmental ruination, excessive exercise of the military, and super-sized everything. Saying, “Stupid America!” accompanied with an eye-roll and a laugh has become the in-thing to do for the educated, progressive youth of our country. It has become the trend of late, especially in environments of high educational caliber such as our school.
This trend disturbs me. It infuriated me this summer as I stood in line with some fellow Marlborough girls at the Shanghai World Expo doing the hate-on-America eye-roll-laugh. China has about 1.3 billion people with virtually no civil rights. Forget about the privilege to vote; seventeen years ago, the Chinese government mauled college protesters down with army tanks at Tiananmen Square.
Yet when I told my host family that people in America believe that China is becoming an economic superstar, and that we think that the Beijing Olympics was epic, their eyes lit up. “We are very proud of our country,” my hostess Jiayi told me.
Don’t tell me that the people of China are brainwashed, that they are fed propaganda by their communist government. After visiting Chinese schools and interacting with the country’s citizens, I can say that this is an inaccurate oversimplification.
You could say that dwelling on the flaws of our country is the realization of an education that encourages critical thinking. Because we see our country’s many problems, we are being realistic. But don’t enough people outside of American hate us already? In focusing on our problems and then throwing away the rest of the conversation with rolls of the eyes and protest signs, we are only reaping half of our education in critical thinking. We are taught how to identify problems so that we can come up with solutions.
I’m not asking you to join the Army or to put unwavering support behind the political leaders of our country, whether it be George W. Bush or Barack Obama. I’m asking you to quit complaining. Before you declare that America is a has-been, a once-was great country, show the world that Americans aren’t so lazy and that we don’t give up so easily. Get up and do something to try to solve the problem: go vote (shout-out at my senior ladies)! Go engage in discussion. Most importantly, be open to hearing another perspective in an effort to try to concoct a solution.