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Raise your hand, fairest reader, if you remember where you were the day Twinkies died. Keep them raised if you’ve spent more than one hour watching Honey Boo Boo and the rest of her zoo-escapee family. Lastly, keep your hand up high if you’ve made a phone call or written a letter to your local congressman or congresswomen. Where did everybody go? And just like that, the room cleared, only leaving behind the smell of Colorado marijuana. That leaves me begging the question, what happened to our priorities?

Once upon a time, the youth collectively gathered in Berkeley, New York, even quiet, ol’ UC Irvine, and they fought. They fought hard for things they believed in. They wanted to end the war in Vietnam. They wanted a president who wasn’t a lying crook. They took over Chicago in 1968, and they were willing to die for their beliefs. And on top of that, they weren’t just pouring their blood into what they believed in; what they were fighting for meant something. They were fighting for the moral high ground. There were issues involving ethics and human rights, not fast food and getting high. It isn’t just the fight that’s been taken out of us, it’s the reason to fight.

Every day, there are a dozen new issues that the media throws at us. And every day, we make the conscious decision to invest or not invest our time and energy into caring about (or, God forbid, actually trying to rectify) a situation. That means that every single day, we Americans wake up, decide we would rather watch a bunch of drunk pseudo-Italians touch each other’s genitals than educate ourselves on issues within our own cities.

Did you know that there is a huge human trafficking problem in Orange County? That’s right. In the heart of the red, white, and blue OC (though, it still pretends to be mostly white), there is a major sex trafficking ring. Why is it that probably 90 percent of people reading this article wouldn’t have heard about that? Besides the fact that the OC tries very hard to protect its image of a WASP-y area, much of the lack of education is voluntary. We just don’t care. Maybe if there were more pictures of boobs and explosions, people would mind a little, but even then, it isn’t a delicious pastry.

Or how about the fact that basic human rights (such as marriage, health care and education) have still yet to be distributed equally amongst people. That seems like it should spark at least a few people’s interests. While there are many hard-working, dedicated individuals out on the front lines, their effort is basically negligible until more of the sheeple  decide that being treated like a human being is important to them as well.

While this could be an article covering judicial activism or climate change; income inequality or corporate personhood; or even the delicate balance between the government intruding on people’s privacy and preventing terrorism (as best they can), none of that would really be the real issue. The real problem is not that the Earth will disintegrate like the Mayans never predicted. The real problem is us, and we are not making it any better.

 

Jonathan Hilltier is a second year English major. He can be reached at jonathan.hilltier@gmail.com

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