By Jessica Lee
Illustration by Cody Angell
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday December 10, 2002
Education does not stop when the UA closes.
As the semester winds down and the phrase "spare time" becomes more frequent in your daily vernacular, how about spending some time catching up on the current news and events? Over the break, most students will plop down at home on their sofa, watch a few holiday movies, prepare for the NCAA football national championship, finally finish the fourth Harry Potter book and/or hit the slopes. Learning about current global, national, state, local and UA news should not remain on the backburner. Take the initiative to become truly educated.
As people of a flourishing global society, it is our responsibility and our duty to stay up to date on present issues. And as American citizens, it is our obligation to keep ourselves informed about the recent and future actions of our elected government on all levels from city, county and state to national.
Iraq. The mere mention of the word chills the room. Most classrooms and office spaces have not opened the subject up for discussion, because for some reason people feel that the issue is too sensitive to be chatted about publicly. The very fact that free expression of opinions on the looming unjustified war with Iraq has become suppressed due to twists in the definitions of patriotism and terrorism should be a signal that the subject is worth looking into. Do not permit yourself to be one of those students who says, "To be honest, I do not really know how I feel about the Iraq thing. I just don't have time to learn about it." Ignorance out of laziness and inconvenience is not all right when the United States is attempting to find reason to send military forces to Iraq, which could result in mass deaths on both sides. Perhaps you might find yourself in support of the upcoming anti-war protests scheduled for Jan. 17 - 19.
Are you a person who loves our public lands? Well, listen up. President Bush has pressed for two important policies that will soon permanently place a user-fee on all our public lands, and open the door for corporate America into our national parks, forests and monuments. The recent decision to privatize half of the federal workplace in step with placing the Recreation Fee Demonstration Project on the "fast track," are blinding indicators that our administration values helping out the business community rather than maintaining stewardship over the natural landscape ÷ land that is valued by us Westerners. Now is the time to become educated and act. The United States is a nation getting away with all kinds of things because Americans are too absorbed in their personal lives to take notice. Corporate fraud within high levels of government; human rights abuses involved with executing minors; funding terrorist camps like the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Ga.; privatizing the work force to fragment unions and threatening union strikes with U.S. military forces; pushing for a poorly-written education reform that hasn't even found its $7 billion dollars worth of funding; wasting money locking up first-time non-violent marijuana offenders; using the International Monetary Fund as a corporate gateway into Third World resources; and supporting state-sponsored oppression worldwide. The United States is a nation that has consistently side-stepped domestic problems such as border control issues, health care, education, the environment, racial equality, class discrimination and education.
It is time to learn why. The hour has come for Americans to treat our country as if we truly love it. We must work hard to improve the conditions for all our citizens, not just the wealthy. Patriotism is not pulling down the star-spangled bandana over your eyes and blindly supporting the local city council, our congresspeople, or our president. Rather, patriotism is having the faith that the nation's conditions can improve for everyone. Participating in the armed forces is only a small fraction of the things you can do to serve our country. Although all our leaders have their downfalls, President Kennedy spoke honestly to his constituency when he said,
"My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for
you; ask what you can do for your country."
In these next three weeks away from the daily grind of work and school, use the time as an ample opportunity to become the ideal citizens of our great nation. Read. Research. Debate.
Lately, Americans have not shown they love this country enough. Change can only come from the inside out.