Intellectual Capital and Student Activism
Crescat scientia; vita excolatur
Let knowledge grow from more to more; and so be human life enriched.
Many students, whether they admit to it or not, are quite proud of our socially awkward and recluse student body. Subconsciously we all like to know that there are, in fact, people as nerdy as we are. Some of us are even calmed by the idea that in the land of geeks the nerd is actually popular. We thrive in this community of like-minded peers. This conclave of socratic, ascetic, and/ or esoteric intellectuals that might, on occasion, even be a little sophist, is a dream home for many of us. We are a race of masochists who unwittingly enjoy the hours spent in the Reg as the brutalist, 1984 style monilth slowly eats at our soul. The more die hard among us even enjoy late-night rendevous with Helgel or Joyce as they lose tract of time and reality in Crear. This over zealous pursuit of knowledge, this unflinching loyalty to crescat scientia, is the hallmark of this university.
The goal of the 4-years spent in this intense mental regimen is learning how to think; learning how to see the world in retro-socratic eyes. We spend countless hours lifting mental weights and injecting our minds with steriods labeled Freud, Foucault, Newton and Faulkner in the hopes that we will…what? What is the purpose of this knowledge? In a school with no professional programs it seems obvious that its intent is not to make us more capable members of the workforce. So why are we here? Are we getting a $200,000 education simply because thought is intrinsically rewarding? Is it only through theory that human life will be enriched? Is this knowledge supposed to keep us warm at night after our debt shuts off the heater?
Do we read The Republic in order to imagine the cave? Does Mill just want to flirt with the idea of liberty? Or, were these texts written for change? Were they written in the sincere hope that some day, after the dust settles and the walls fall, someone will act on what they’ve wrote? I doubt that the majority of the texts we read were written just to proke thought. Instead it is from these thoughts that our intellectual forefathers and mothers wanted change; a metamorphisis of cognitive function. They sought the enrichment of humanity by stripping away its golden façade and examining the grit and grim and hopefully, a little of the beauty that is the human experience. And thereby freed from the vail of ideological vanity and pushed forward into reality we might mold the world with new eyes.
Maybe this Ivory Tower by the Lake was intended to create revolutionaries. My guess is that itprobably wasn’t, but who are they to say that can’t be? Who is this beloved Hutch’ that we cannot stare down his painting and, between bitting into our subway “eat fresh” sandwiches, yell viva la revolution ? Who are they to let us believe that there is not enough space between our 9:30 Greek exam and our 2 o’clock Bio Lab to stand up? Nobody. There no one and nothing to stop us from
harneshing harnessing the philosophy of the kid that smells of ink and lead and redbull and conflating it with the brillance of your roomates’ economics. There is nothing that says we can’t apply Du Bois to Cottage Grove or Crime and Punishment to Abu Ghraib. There certaintly is nothing stoping stopping us from extending that Bartlett discussion on neo-libralism or anaylitic analytic geometry to BJ and Pierce and the Med. These conversations are essential in this day and age. Who better to have them than us? We are the greatest minds of this nation. Even just as youth, regardless of what college we attend, we are the only citizens of this country that are currently capable to walk the treachours treacherous path between youthful idealsim idealism and educated thought. We are the new eyes watching the world through paradigms created in Boston Latin, Palmer High and the Hyd pe Park Academy with 20/20 vision. We are ready to be the new radicals, revelutionaries revolutionaries and fire-starters of our time.
The marticulates of the University of Chicago, in our endless trek for truth, are even more posed to leap to this challenge. We posses not the only pricesless intellectual skills, foundations, desires for knowledge, and willingness to think outside the box, but also the
privilige privilege to have the time and rescources to take up arms against the sea of troubles that is the modern era. Not to die or sleep or chance a dream, but collect our intellectual capital and bring change. To bring about a change that will equal that of our parents before us and stand the test of time. The icredibly incredibly vast storage of knowledge and insight that our academic train ning has given us helps us understand the complexities of the world around us. Our youth allows us to circumvent the mortgages and other adult resposibilities of our parents, freeing us to go where our hearts and minds bid us. We would be fools to not capilitize this advantage; this gift.
The fact that Modernism has given way to post-modernism and sexuality has already been rev
ulutionized should not cause us to turn a blind eye to today. The movements of the past are no longer able to represent who and what our genration is. They are not capable of looking the terrorist in the eye and seeing a history of violence, poverty and oppression. They cannot comprehend globalizim globalism or the internet. Nor can the views of the sixties, seventies or eightes break through cold war mentalities. It is up to us to propose a new way of life. A life in which no one will have to fear the bomb threats of terror bent fanitics fanatics or the instigating pressures of poverty, war and neglect brought on by western imperialism.
We were born just before
Gorbochief Gorbachev tore that wall down and the U.S.S.R fell shortly after. We have never known the agony of a cold, persitent persistent war. Yet, we are in a generation facing the fires of a war on burning sands in high definition, international blogs and in the prostetics prosthetics and coffins of loved ones. We are the genration generation born long after the instituional changes of Brown vs The Board of Education and Title IX. Therefore we are the generation charged with the task of leaping outside the box of law and force and into merky pools of thought. We seek the path of attitudinal change. No Supreme Court case can stop force from being the first line of defencedefense. No march on Washington will stop women from being objectified and stop forcing men into mysoginistic misognistic archetypes of manhood. And no senattorial senatorial commetitee committee can tell us how to be individuals in society, Black in America, Americans in Humanity or an anti-capitalist with a love affiar affair with Starbucks.
Instead, this new way of life, this intellectual movement and philosophical paradigm must be infused and shouted out through our actions and interactions. We must reach across color, sex and discipline lines to create
dilaougedialogue. Our thoughts, minds, desires, fears and dreams must be actively and constructively conflated, examined, and synthesized. Our ideas and minds must coalesce into a new American Melting pot that resides beside the mixed greens salad comprised of our identities. Our social constucts constructs need to be reavulated reevaluated and deconstucted while we redefine and reconceptualize what it means to be human. This is the only way for our generation to have true self-agency; to be defined in our own terms. This obligation rests more heavily on this student body because with our great privalige comes great responsibilty.
With us standing at the cross-roads of the 21st-Century, caught between theory and the real world, between apathy and progress, virtue and hedonism, the greatest sin that our student body can commit is the sin of ommission. Our greatest tradegy would be seeing our potential wasted by hermit philosophers and lazy, passive or short-sighted intellectuals. We must ask ourselves how our amazing abilities and ambitions have been allowed to combine only when circumistance tires of our disorganization. We can no longer limit the life of our minds to the short lived, albeit thought provoking and stimulating, conversations that many of us live for. This
dioluge dialogue is so crucial that, once eastablishedestablished, we must never allow it to be silenced by our work loads. The lack of any such movement shows that this progress cannot be achieved by happenstance; it must be sought and instigated. So between all-nighters and leveling up on W.O.W ask yourself what is the change you want to see in the world? What issue gets under your skin or is constently constantly on your mind? Think past scav and bar night, past that girl in your analysis lecture and look beyond yourself.
We are part of a world
were where sex, drugs and money infiltrate and influence every facet of society. These western conceptions of universal vices are pushed into the minds of other youth the world over. We are ever so slowly decsending descending to state in which we all have a price tag, a perferred means of escape and a sexual sterotype stereotype that we are dying to reinforce. Our nation is, whether intentionally or not, pursuing the age old struggle of imperialism. The news spends more time on coked out celebrities than the war on drugs. Millions are in poverty; fighting, scrapping and killing out of hunger, fear, greed and revenge. In this new golden age of Capitialism you can sell your eggs, sperm, ideas, and even give up your newborn baby for a few dollars. It appears that we now see all four horses of the apocolypse apocalypse everytime we look into the mirror. Our greed, fear, lust and pride are slowly corroding not only the fabrics of society but of ourselves.
We are living in nation were color matters more than merit, sex matters more that competence and sexual orientation bars you from service, marriage and social acceptance. We are type casted and
catagorized categorized arbatrily arbitrarily yet these distinctions carry unseemly amounts of social consideration. Sadly, we are indirectly self-defined by the way we buy into the stylized and unrealistic images that we ourselves created. We are potrayed as thugs, preps, valley girls, jocks, nerds, outcasts, or drama freaks and expected to act within the realms of those archytypesarchetypes. People today are told that they will enivitably inevitably get cancer, have mood disorders, erectile disfunction nctin and other illnesses that, luckily, can be treated with an assortment of chemicals. These miracle pills’ side-effects merely include low blood pressure, iratationirritation, increased risk of stroke and in some serve severe cases…death. All the while we will be constantly over weight as we rush to look like Jessica Alba and Brad Pitt. We have gotten so lost in these social expectations that we need Dr. Phil and self-help books in order to “discover” who we are. And of those choice few who break out of these constraints and build self esteem, many cannot identify themselves as anything other than a broader and more unique mix of preexisting social constructs.
On the brighter side, if you contiune to look beyond yourself you will no doubt notice that underlinning sex and greed and fear lay countless acts of love, humilty and courage. Despite its tribulations, the world is full of loving families and happy childhoods. In the eyes of a father stigmatized by poverty, you can see tears of joy as his young daughter learns to read. In a country whose dream has been a nightmare for so many, he can already envision his daughter’s success. Miles away, in a home that looks broken from the outside, the son of a crack addicted mother has never known neglect and has never lived without his mother’s love. No chemical could ever hide her pride, her affection or his dignity.
Humans embody such great resilience that even in the midst war and hate we can still love and be loved. With the great evils before us we have been blessed by fortune to have the tools to fix and fight them. All the barriers of society are slowly crumbling before our eyes as we interact with other world citizens half the world away. In the midsts of war we can read the blogs of Lebanese and Israeli college students. With the onset of
globilism globalism the back-channels of diplomancy are slowly transfering transferring to our hands. In online forums we can discuss the war on terror with both sides and let our words, not our fears or politics, build bridges.
By extending these networks we are extending our sense of family. In this global family the laughter of Korean children warm the hearts of French mothers. These connections are slowly forcing us to realize that we are in fact our brother’s keeper. The pain of one is the pain of all. When reports of genocide are followed by pictures and screams we shutter, realizing how their faces look so much like our own. Their dreams are our dreams and our fears are theirs. Humanity ever so slowly comes to understand that we can not continue to allow our hate to divide us. Instead, it is our common hopes,
apsirations aspirations and loving-kindness that must bind us. Thus this new set of resources at our fingertips gives us more space to define ourselves and society than ever before. The internet has given us the ability to take this magnificaent magnificent dialouge dialogue to the global stage.
After you realize this smorgousboard of issues, loves and ills you grapple with, explore them. Explore them through your roomates memories; explore them through divestment, solidarity or student teaching. Discover whats beyond
63st 63rd or why your classmate sees the world so differently than you. Constantly reasses what you have learned, what shocked you, where you want to go now and why. Never think you cannot, should not or are not expected to make real and tangible change. And most importantly, do not travel Quixoicly quixoticallyin solitude. Bring your experiences and questions back to the beautiful dioulouge dialogue which is the true life of the mind. Express your dreams and plans to your peers and listen to the passions of others. Build bridges and cross the imaginary lines that separate us. Create networks and plans for actions. Use music, poetry, journalism, photography, art or action to rattle the status quo. Create artist colonies or community centers to bring new ideas to fruition. Plan rallies, make fliers, and campaigns to create a new eastablismentestablishment. Watch this new mountain of knowledge, this mosiac of personalities, grow and develop and find joy in the new, defi nning movement of our generation. And After this revolution, we will write the new classics that will give the next generation the tools to cast out our outdated ideas for newer, better ones.
In the words of Victor Hugo “There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”