What are we to think … we have come from square hedges and trimmed yards to jungles of pressure and deceit, yearning to find one another in some realized confusion. Inside out of rules and yet still emerged in the darkness that rules provide. Wanting more of a community, less money, more communication. We speak but are considered too novice, too nubile, too wet behind our ears. But I believe we have the answer. We were born with it. And those of us who are lucky enough to have been spared from the epidemic of jade know what we learned in preschool was true: violence is bad; hitting is bad; killing is bad.
Contrary to Jerry Falwell’s belief, success cannot be measured in terms of monetary gain, or appearing on a blasphemy of television specials that succeed in prostituting spirituality. We need to see success as an achievement that runs deep into spiritual realization. This is a hard achievement to realize if we allow ourselves to obsess over credit card bills and student loans. Success is learning about the gestation of gray wolves, or becoming romantically involved with a Dylan Thomas, or ee cummings poem. It is sitting in a bagel shop; listening to a classical violin fill an otherwise morose room with heartfelt notes. It is feeling the rhythm of an African drum, understanding progressions, knowing the true meaning of equality. All of these are achieved by those who let the knowledge in. Once it breaks the surface, positivism can only grow. We may digress. We may do drugs. We may suffer from depression, or fear of failure. But if we know what it is to learn, we can live full lives, and begin teaching ourselves.
It might be difficult to achieve this brand of peace on a global scale, but if we can do it together in Portland, Ore., we have something to build on. If we can continue to spread our distaste for hate, and our need for global understanding, we can be proud. We need to be heard. The youth. The future. And some of us do not care so much about having enough money to sway a politician’s vote, or owning three cars. We just want to be able to live in a world that breeds teachers, not terrorists. Things need changing. The buck starts here.
Joel Silverstein is at Portland State on exchange from University of Massachusetts-Amherst