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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Why not hope for the best?

There are so many terrible things in the world — wars, mass disease, corruption, extortion and exploitation. If you are informed about many of the issues of today, the outlook is bleak. It’s enough to make a person become disenfranchised with all of humankind and just give up on it all. But we can’t give in to apathy out of helplessness. Cynicism accomplishes nothing.

In our popular culture, being jaded and pessimistic is something of a trend. Most would rather watch Jon Stewart or read “”The Onion”” for satire and sarcasm about the day’s issues than spend time researching them through real journalism venues, like CNN or BBC.

Why is that? Can we simply not handle the real news? It’s always discouraging to learn about the billions spent, thousands killed or hundreds burned, but we should not become immune to or avoid the news of our community or of the world, no matter how harrowing. When we are skeptical and contemptuous, we lose our power to set in motion effective change to improve the very problems that make us so sneering in the first place.

When President Obama campaigned in 2008, he chose not to focus on the negative mistakes of the previous administration when he could have easily spent his time bashing all of George W. Bush’s decisions. Most citizens are unafraid of partaking in this kind of dialogue, so why wouldn’t Obama take this natural route? He was above it.

Obama and his managers instead chose to appeal to the American people on a positive platform: He asked voters to believe in hope. President Obama vied for this high position without being sarcastic or sardonic about everything the other guy had done wrong. Rather, he based his campaign on the belief that a better world is possible. 

And it worked far better than McCain’s slanderous TV commercials and stodgy, harsh rhetoric. Voters responded to Obama’s message of possibility. Thousands of the voters who cast ballots for Obama were students responding to an upbeat message in politics for the first time in recent memory. To change the world for the better, we must believe: Yes, we can.

Young generations are, in general, hopeful and idealistic people. We still believe in the possibility of a better tomorrow. If we are to leave all of our marks on the world that we still believe is our collective oyster, we must not become paralyzed by how daunting the problems of the world seem at times.

Last week, much of the student body mobilized overnight to promote free speech and the students’ right to use chalk. The writing was literally on the wall for the UA administration — students were angry, and they were doing something about it. This action almost certainly influenced the absolution of all charges against Evan Lisull, one of the men arrested for using chalk on campus. Because we believed we could make a difference and solve a problem, we did.

However, we like to forget that the issue started on a much more negative note. Jacob Miller drew chalk bodies in the Union to protest the UA Transformation and raise awareness of the budget crisis, an issue that the student body is jaded about. We don’t feel like we can do anything about it, so we’ve stopped caring, stopped trying. We are crippled by cynicism, but thankfully, in the case of the chalk debacle, students were tenacious enough to stand up for their thoughts. In the end, we saw positive results for student freedoms.

We’ve been made misanthropes by how daunting, obscured and unsolvable the issue feels. The student body was so effective and forceful on the chalking issue because it felt like something we could fix: Get the charges dropped, get our chalking privileges reinstated, and the issue is resolved. Any budget and restructuring battle can’t really ever be won, and even the smallest change can only be effected with much greater effort.

No positive change has ever been set in motion by a completely cynical person. Those who change the world have at least one thing in common: They have hope. They believe in a better tomorrow. When we are jaded, we are submissive. We can’t stop acting because we stop seeing change. To scoff is easy. To care is hard. Even when the task at hand feels impossible, we must seek to remain idealists. Despite all the awful, unsolvable-seeming issues we face, we must believe: Yes, we can.

— Anna Swenson is a sophomore majoring in English. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu. 

 

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