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August 13, 2007 - Image 24

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2007-08-13

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12 The Michigan Daily - Orientation Edition 2007

Greatest generation
It's not narcissism, if we really are the best

He clearly used his position, but who hasrf't?"


ispore bi y ati

In the latest study flushed
from the ivory tosser of
academia, psychologists
concluded that college students
are more narcissistic than ever
before. But so what if we students
do spend most of our time talk-
ing about ourselves and flaunting
our extensive accomplishments:
It's not narcissism if we really are
better than everyone else.
The study defined narcis-
sists merely as those who agree
with the most obvious of state-
ments like, "If I ruled the world,
it would be a better place." Led
by five over-the-hill psychology
professors from across the coun-
try, the study failed to account
for the fact that even from an
early age, others recognized
and cultivated our generation's
greatness, Sensory-motor skills
barely at hand, we heard for the
first time the indisputable decla-
ration that we are special. First
it was our mom, then our grand-
parents and then a big yellow
bird even had to agree we were
truly unique - on TV.
The late Mr. Rogers, among
others, was a pioneer in recog-
nizing our preeminent achieve-
ment. Almost on a daily basis,
Rogers, a grown-up, had his pick
of any person in America to be
his neighbor, yet he chose not
to go after your Kim Basingers,
Jean-Claude Van Dammes or Joe
Ca rters. No, he picked us.
Then we headed of f to school,
where our greatns ted no
time in coming to ligt. Snag-
ging the first of many student-

of-the-month awa
semester, we nen
solid academic p
uncountable ce
merit, certificate
tion, certificates o
and more than a ci
faces on returned1
Recently, we
minds moved out
neighborhood ant
campuses. Nothi
prepared the worl
wind of progress
one of thousands
the Facebook g
Beckham > Supet
record straight c
misconception tl
many of the world
sine conflicts, baf
most qualified of
relations theorists
Some argue tha
changing the work
group at a time i
insincere and lazy
haters haven't got:
selfless sacrifices o
and ooncmeloneh
t e1,000 that join th
donate $1 for Darf
The study's atte
dize the self-estee
by marginalizing
ment and serving
social rejection fe
ciate professors w
this "research" is t
Never has acader
a more serious off
Right, Mr. Roge

ards that first
t on to build a
ortfolio, with
rtificates of
s of recogni-
'f achievement
ouple of smiley

One o us

illustrious am informed by newspa-
pers that we are about four
of Mr. Roger's years into the war in Iraq.
d onto college But in my
ig could have mind it has
d for the whirl- been only Youth
owe wrought. 11 months, must stop
of examples three weeks this war.
;roupa"David ond two
rnan" set tie days. That is
the amount of time this war has
n a common taken my friend Lucas away from
hat catalyzes his family and friends. Regardless
l's most explo- of how you count it, it seems that
fling even the the days of this grand inisadven-
Sinterinatiinal ture might be numbered.
Last week, members of the U.S.
t House of Representatives went
our means of on the record to oppose the war.
done Facebook Here at tihe Univeisity, Students
s meaningless, for a Democratic Socity, the group
. Clearls' these famous for mobilizing thousands of
tii nind of tine students against the Vietnam War
iftite yowlmeltn has reemerged. But until some-
one can explain how this plan or
nd "For Every that protest is going to bring Lucas
is group I will home, it's all meaningless to me.
ur." Always on the periphery of our
mpt toaggran- communal privilege, Lucas never
im of old people conplained about tie financial
oiir aiieve- struggles his f amiy faced. Instead,
g tr aoothhie he'thrived among a group of friends
gto sooth tit who skied, sunenned and lunched
It by the asso- our way through a Westchester,
cho conducted N.Y. adolescence. He belonged.
truly alarming. It was not until the secoind
nia committed semester of college that the reality
Fense.of Lucas's situation became appar-
ent: He could not afford to return
rs? to school. For the first time there
was a separation between us. I
- Mar. 9, 2007 flew back to Michigan to study and
Lucas joined the army. He was sent
to Iraq last March.
SMar. 20,2007 In a recent column, Whitney

Dibo described the attitude of
detached recognition this campus
has adopted toward the war (T&D
department 'Conquers' with class,
02/16/2007): "I had watched the
astronaut attempted murder story
unfold on CNN all weekend, but
flipped channels during the Iraq
war updates. What would (a war
photographer) think of my watch-
ing E! last night, trying to figure
out how exactly Anna Nicole Smith
had died?"
I must admit that this concept
of separateness - the ridicu-
lous notion that we are somehow
removed fromthethroesofthiswar
because it is not us doing the fight-
ing - has sustained me in this past
year. It is this separateness that has
assuaged the guilt of a friend and
helped to justify her inaction.
Congress is not going to ask us
to make change, to stop a war or
to create a movement. Powerful
people - whether they be presi-
dents, senators or simply members
of older generations whose ideas
have passed theirtime - are afraid
of progress. They hope that we are
pacified by reality television and
Britney Spears's underpants. They
want us to remain immobilized by
the divisions of class and race we
have inherited.
it's nice that the House has
decided to rebuke the president for
his failed crusade in Iraq. But real-
ly, the debate being held in Con-
gress is little more than political.
posturing. And not unlike other
times in American history, it's up
to the youth to stop this war.
The University must weigh in
on the war in Iraq, not by protest-

ing its existence (too late) or by
exploiting it as a political pawn for
partisan gain, but by organizing
and demanding change.
The returnofSDS to Michigan is
promising. I want to believe that it
willinvigoratethe debateandbring
an end to this war. But it cannot do
so until we acknowledge that the
war in Iraq is as much a partof our
generation as "The Real World" or
MySpace.com. We cannot wait for
Congress to solve the quagmire it
helped create. The revolution may
indeed be televised, but it will not
be broadcast by C-Span.
Yes, the idea of separateness is
alluring, and in the moments when
I feel particularly guilty, I have
often looked to it for relief. But for
someone so far removed from the
classrooms of Angell Hall, Lucas
bears a striking resemblance to
you and me. He still has his Face-
biiok.com account: I check up on
him from time to time, browse his
photos of the endless desert and
the camouflaged madness. Lucas's
activities as posted on Facebook
include, "Building sandcastles
with Michael Farracaro." I smile,
encouraged by the thought that
what was always a wicked sense of
humor may survive Iraq.
Lucas - like all our peers in
Iraq - does not belongto the ivory
towers of academia. But he does
belong to our generation. Eleven
months, three weeks, and two
days in, Ijust needed to make sure
someone else knew it, too.
- Feb. 20, 2007
Mara Gay can be reached
at maracl@umich.edu.



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