I am scared. We are at the nexus of an immovable moment in our modern history. What we know to be true has been a perfuse fallacy. Our existence and future is no more real than answering to the proverbial question: what do you want to be when you grow up? The new emblematic question of our elder forebearers should be: what will exist when you grow up?
Politically, environmentally, economically, and socially, I am in fear. The undoing of the hope-inducing norm of decorum and public discourse has been eroded. Irregularities in our climate have forced unforeseeable migrations and eerie conditions antithetical to our conventional conception of season. And yet, on this campus, while conducting some of the deepest investigations of the past, present, and future, this phenomenon seems to escape us. I say this not to diminish the work of groups on campus and the individual traumas suffered at the hands of this spiraling world order. But, I do say this to affirm our privilege to wait idly by, learning, and preparing to chart our lives in an indeterminable future.
Yes, your major is important. What our expertise offers is crucial. And our presence here at 500 College Ave is a formative exchange on a daily basis of our perception of our collective passions. Yet, we emerge unscathed to our beds, to our homes, and insulated from the visceral undoing of all that was perceptively just and good.
Unfortunately, I wish our memes, our reposts, our likes, our story highlights, and our opinions could change it all. Most of us have become morally good through the comfort of our phone screens. Civil disobedience has become a like and a tweet. I am culpable. I am responsible.
However, I am done. It feels insane to me that I am living this relatively splendid state of life, and yet, there are entire communities of people among me beset with unwavering trauma. The physical, external and the mental, internal of this lived cognitive dissonance is a manifestation of a politic that is self-righteous and contextualized in an immediate comfort.
That is more of the reason we should be allied, not factored in futile distinctions and segmentation. When we are a collective, we are powerful. How do we build that? How do we forge intently envisioned connections across identities for a shared outcome? I do not know. But, I believe one option is cherishing the moment we have here to cultivate and internalize the power of the collective.
I am scared. I feel more pulled, desensitized, and unwilling to work across differences than ever. As I cannot speak for myself in this forum, I offer you this abstract piece as a call to collective action. It is entitled “Progress.”
There shall be nothing more false than progress,
No greater travesty than man’s attempt to understand the unknown,
to domesticate the most wild of beasts,
to bring light to the dark,
to bring life to the deceased,
to be permanent in a world of temporaries,
lasting in a system of short measure,
Our world suspends in an imbalance of the greed of man and the limits of nature.
Demanding what is not to be ours,
Thinking in the now and too selfish to understand the proactiveness of measure, the sanity of limitation, the understanding of moderation,
To be exhorted to the point of action, has failed this race,
Has failed as it is seen as new,
As a trend to be hashtagged and protested,
When long before the new had exhorted, the old had implored,
The progress that must occur now, cannot think in selfish individualism,
But rather in altruistic collectiveness,
Change itself cannot occur with the world we have evolved to tirelessly destroy,
To rip and oppress, overtoil, its rain our blood, its love our emission.
In these times, our inherent greed and destruction must be invested in the systems,
The human constructs and conditions that perpetuate our circumstance.
Invested to annihilate, to undo, to rebuild and reestablish,
This is the progress that induces change.
The flowers that wilted with neglect and bloom with attention,
Conversing until the rich have exercised their minds to no longer think in numbers,
Rise with a passion so ignited all opposition will bend to its devotion.
It will engulf us in spirit, surround us in mind, and access us in action.