Tuesday, January 29, 2008

From Burning Drafts to Blogging

In response to 'One Generation Got Old, One Generation Got Soul'


An article in the New York Times education, highlights present-day dissatisfaction for American Politics and the war in Iraq among American youth. Writer Rachel Aviv speaks with some students at the New School who have recently joined the resurrected S.D.S. in search of social change and solidarity during ‘powerless’ times. Although there is dispute on the reputation of the former S.D.S and it’s historic turn towards fundamentalism, it isn’t farfetched to recognize the similarities between the War in Iraq and the division and governmental mistrust that plagued America during the Vietnam War. The S.D.S. was re-inspired following three events – 9/11, Iraq, and Hurricane Katrina. The group aims to combat “racism, and white supremacy, capitalism, patriarchy, heterosexism and transphobia, authoritarianism and imperialism. Any issue that falls under the rubric of “oppression.” I, as an advocate for social change and movements toward political restructuring, could not agree with more. However, I read on to find that during the second national convention, attended by about 200 members, the students spent a day discussing how ‘not’ to oppress one another. They split into groups based on gender, class, race and sexual orientation. This seems to me what happens so often when we are aiming to prevent something, and we end up creating exactly what we are trying to avoid. Tom Hayden, a former president of S.D.S. made a statement that ‘They’re blogging against the war, they’re not burning draft cards...the war in Iraq vividly demonstrates that the issues of the 60s have not gone away, but this generation has an identity crisis that it will have to resolve on its own.” His inability to support the new branch of S.D.S. could be in his lack of understanding of the new generation. It seems that our rapid technological advancements have, in some cases, created even more of a divide between generations. Though, ex-hippies of that time usually say ‘You’ll never understand how we lived...it was the best times, it was....’ And I don’t doubt it, it was a sort of adolescence for America characterized by pivotal, oppressing and simultaneously liberating events. However, I do agree with Hayden on one point, our generation is having an identity crisis. Although, I believe that we are going to need help, and inter-generational partnerships in order to resolve it – we cannot do it alone. I don’t see blogging as less consequential than burning draft cards, our times are different. On the contrary, blogging actually takes away the misconception of borders, and allows us to share ideas and connects us more widely to the global world that we live in. Burning draft cards isn’t going to do much if you don’t have a friend in Mexico that you’ve been communicating with via facebook.
I commend the students and S.D.S. members for becoming involved during a particularly ‘fear-stricken’ era, in which we must mobilize. We must restructure our society from the inside – out, starting with the coming Presidential election, and by living as though we are not oppressed, by being self-empowered citizens of a changed world, a world unlike that of the 60’s. A world in which education and relearning of history is at our fingertips, and blogging is a good starting point for discourse on change.

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