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April 19, 2005 - Image 16

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-04-19

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4B - The Michigan Daily - Special Graduation Section -Tuesday, April 19, 2005

OPINION
REFLECTIONS

Since its inception,
the Daily Editorial
Page has been a
forum for diverse
opinions on a vast
array of topics.
As the class of
2005 prepares
to graduate, we
offer a look back
at some of the
most important
issues addressed
during its time at
the University.

i

SAM BUTLER THE S>APB' OX

NOTABLE
QUOTABLE

I

Your nation
will soon be
free."

- President Bush, on Iraqi television on
April 11, 2003 in an address to the
Iraqi people, as reported by
The Associated Press.

A toast to college
SAM BUTLER THE 1XNG-WINDED SOAPBOX
ere's to c ol- College is intoxicating, and we can only experiences we have forged us. We are the
lege. Here's to hope that we drank the whole bottle. class of Sept. 11, and it's fitting that we have
us seniors - we It's a perfect place, this other Eden, this risen from those ashes to enter the world we
are gods amongst kings. demi-paradise, this Ann Arbor. It certainly will will help create.
We finally are those deter- be missed. Stepping into the "real world," long- We have issues, to be sure. Other than
mined students walking ing adults tell us that college is the best time of the ones that will be cured in psychotherapy,
briskly past, too important our lives. Maybe one day I too will choke on we will have to cope with the burgeoning
y to notice the herd of orien- nostalgia, but I refuse to live the rest of my life moral landscape of globalization and multi-
tation kids standing there in decrescendo. Maybe I'm still shrouded in culturalism, the increasing specialization of
like deer in headlights. Of naive optimism, but I refuse to believe that the knowledge and emergence of a technocratic
course, we were those kids once, trying to front rest of my life will be plastered in mediocrity. class, as well as a life constantly predicated
confidence when really we were the equivalent . It's an oppressing sense of ordinariness that by a barrage of information and imagery. But
of new-born babes, trying to figure out what scares many of us. We suffer from generational whatever issues I think we have is immaterial,
the hell we were getting into. College is a time envy. Brad Pitt tells us that our great depression so long as you have your own.
for rebirth, but now we're seniors and expected is our lives. Living in the storied shadows of College is the time for the rose-colored
to walk on our own. Life makes us the butt of our parents' protests, we've been beaten into beer goggles of idealism. We're told that col-
another joke -just when we've got everything believing the charade of their student power. lege is our one and only chance to change
figured out, it's time to leave. How could our generation ever compete? We the world. Some of us worry we missed our
As we enter the winter of our scholastic think that we lack an overarching purpose by opportunity. Screw that - change the world
careers, we all are reflecting on this strange which to guide our lives. This is a myth. Just on your own terms. Whether you're the revo-
world we are leaving. College is more than the like 1968, there are those of us who will be sat- lutionary, the ambitious business student or
late nights of drinking, more than the late nights isfied with the Volkswagen and stable job, and someone in between, make sure you have
of drunkenly ordering pizza at 3 a.m., more there will be those of us who change the world. an idea of what you want out of life. When
than the all-too-early mornings of going to The only separation is a decision of zeal. you opened your textbooks, I only hope
class hung over. There are other things involved The current academic milieu is partly to you found yourself as much as you did the
in college, too, but I can't really remember blame for our uncertainty. We are taught to answers to your homework.
them too well. deconstruct everything we come across. We With confidence we should continue this
College itself is like alcohol - it's intoxi- enter the world prepared by four years of learn- process of reconstruction. It'll be a slow course,
cating. Activity buzzes in the air, the trees ing that everything in art and literature is a though. We're starting out like those petrified
and the crisscrossed paths that are straight penis and that white males are pretty much freshman. But this time, we know from experi-
and direct with purpose. Every ivy-cov- responsible for everything that is wrong with ence that we'll find our niche and continue to
ered brick offers tradition and opportunity. this earth. Our wisdom comes from knowing define our lives. We need to binge on the real
Plugged into the rest of the world, we are that we know nothing. We are clever because world as we did on college. Life is intoxicat-
surrounded by exploding minds and unfamil- we admit to not being clever. ing, and, just because we're leaving college, it
iar cultures. It's hard to leave such a blissful Emerging from this academic world of doesn't mean we need to stop drinking. Cheers.
place as the University. At no other time will deconstruction, it's paradoxical that I feel
our existence be dedicated to gaining a smor- academia has formed me into who I am. Aca- Butler can be reached at
gasbord of knowledge about the world. demically we take apart, but personally, our butlers@umich.edu
The creative destruction of youth
ZAC PESKOWITZ THE LOWER FREQUENCIES

orty years ago
today, the Beatles
made the first
of four historic perfor-
mances on "The Ed
Sullivan Show." This,
the arbiters of culture,
would say after clearing
their collective throats,
was a moment when "to
be young was very heaven." We, on the other
hand, have not been so fortunate, according to
those lucky Baby Boomers. We are soft and
fat, occupied by fleeting concerns or no con-
cerns at all. We are weak and malleable; they
were strong and pioneering.
Despite the best efforts of the Boomers to
infect us with viral marketing, make us "tip"
toward the latest trend, fashion or fad and use
assorted schemes to make our lives utterly
miserable, twentysomethings once again
deserve a positive mention on those obliga-
tory New Year's "In" and "Out" lists.
Look at our accomplishments: One of us
is the star witness in the Martha Stewart
trial and titillates the financial press with
tales of designer drug use. In Michigan, if
you're a plucky member of the creative class,
you can be the centerpiece of Gov. Jennifer
Granholm's set-piece strategy for economic
vibrancy. We even get to subsidize $534 bil-
lion worth of Medicare prescription drug
benefits over the course of a decade. Actu-
ally, maybe things aren't that great in the
United States.
But outside of this country, the prospects

are more promising. In Iran, the real bete noir
of the ayatollahs isn't the United States, it's the
millions of Iranians who are under 25. When
more than 70 percent of a country's popula-
tion is younger than 25, politicians have to
maintain a wary eye on the whims of youth
at all times. This is a particular concern in a
nation where many young people have sought
out space for creativity in the form of novel
genres of music, blogs and, in many cases, a
revolutionary posture toward the state. While
Iran's Guardian Council bans reform candi-
dates from running in parliamentary elections
and the government arrests student leaders,
this burgeoning youth movement ensures that
the quest for "personal space" will continue.
The age of youth isn't just limited to regions
with exploding population growth. Japan
stands out as an example of youth seizing con-
trol of a nation's culture and injecting it with
a sense of urgency and relevance. While most
of Japan has experienced a decade of ennui
and drift, the "gross national cool" associ-
ated with the nation's youth has made Japan
a superpower once more. Cultural might has
replaced the dreams of economic hegemony
in a country where the youth have pioneered
new approaches to the challenges of post-his-
torical boredom.
Examples of youth wielding political
power abound as well. In South Korea, the
vaunted 3-8-6 generation, after its success-
ful battles against military dictatorship,
effectively controls the national agenda. Its
power and influence has achieved diverse
goals from altering the state's foreign policy

to installing public libraries on the trains of
Seoul's subway system.
The kids exist to change culture. They are
the only ones who can. They are the ones who
create new ways of solving problems, new val-
ues and new systems of conduct. Forty years
after the Beatles were beamed into the living
rooms of 73 million Americans, these lessons
have been eclipsed by the Baby Boomers' cel-
ebration of themselves. It wasn't always this
way. There was recently a time when Wired
magazine, the dot.coms and the citizens of
Generation X were going to take over the
world, or, at the very least, the networks of
information which would eventually control
it. Angry Boomers sneered at their successes.
Of course, these brash young upstarts were
hubristic, decadent and arrogant, but they had
some great ideas.
In his memoir "A Heartbreaking Work of
Staggering Genius," Dave Eggers, one of the
iconic symbols of this brief era, recounts how
his fledgling magazine ran a glowing profile
of the founder of Teach For America. Wendy
Kopp, the Princeton graduate who turned her
senior thesis into one of the most successful
volunteer organizations in the United States,
was the model for a new type of activism. But
Eggers et al. soon grew bored with Kopp and
decided to trash her as a self-indulgent prig,
motivated by a sense of haughty noblesse
oblige. Maybe the best part about being
young is the opportunity to destroy every-
one's heroes and not have to think about the
consequences.
- Feb. 09, 2004

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