I first began to think about this question a week before Hurricane Katrina and, despite my efforts, I could find little to defend our generation. Most of my friends could not tell me who Karl Rove was despite his almost daily appearances in the summer’s news, and I can safely bet that none of them had ever heard of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA.
Even our college campus, which is essentially a hub of young voters and developing minds, devotes most of its Ring Road space to fraternities advertising parties and collecting specimens for rush week. By comparison, when the war in Iraq was initially declared, on-campus demonstrations (of those either for or against the decision) never seemed to grow past maximum of 50 lackluster students. So, when given the task of defending this generation by describing what is on our minds without total embarrassment, I was at a loss.
But all of this was before the hurricane. Since the disaster struck, our nation has seemed to come out of its contented stupor, pouring millions of dollars of aid into the affected region and devising ways to help the millions of newly homeless and devastated citizens. Media coverage has been praised for its honesty, and many people, famous or otherwise, have flocked to the region to aid.
Now, even college and high school students are familiar with FEMA, know the Red Cross’s telephone number and how to navigate its Web site and might even have taken a trip to the local blood bank. Maybe it’s that this disaster has finally hit home; that United States citizens could be living in fear of typhoid with no food, water or medical treatment would have been unthinkable a little over a month ago.
On the other hand, it shouldn’t take a tragedy close to home to make the average college student aware of the world around them. We are living in an area made world famous (thanks to various TV shows and movies) for its mansions, rich kids, designer clothing and beautiful weather, but it doesn’t have to become a bubble.
I can only hope that this generation, as the future representatives of the United States, will continue to take an interest in national, as well as international, issues and not recede back into carelessness and complacency.
Jessica Morreale is a fourth-year literary journalism major.
Filed Under: Opinion