Post Classifieds

Protests at home, abroad demand discovery over apathy

By Stewart Burns
On November 1, 2011

Would unshaven hippies carrying roughly scribbled signs above their fedoras remind you of anything currently ongoing in the United States and around the world?

For the last few weeks Occupy Wall Street protests have managed to snatch up headlines and expand throughout the world. There was even an Occupy Istanbul protest this past weekend. The description given above may to some extent describe a portion of the OWS participants. However, it is clear is that the ongoing protests are much more diverse and much more inclusive than people might think.

The purpose of this commentary is not to analyze or take a stance on the OWS protests, but more importantly to charge readers with the task of attempting to understand what is going on in the world.

Trapped in our DePauw vacuum, it is easy to jump to conclusions about worldly issues or even something going on down the street. If we could clear away the passive nature of (some of) our students then we can understand great things. Certainly not all of our students are blind to issues affecting the rest of our world, however, many students make no effort to understand the world beyond 140 characters.

Making judgments without adequately formulating our own opinions is dangerous behavior. The media (yes, even The DePauw) can easily herd the masses and direct them down the road that seems most popular. With outstanding headlines and clips, the reader can become the sheep. Instead of relying solely on MSNBC or Fox News, why not instead rely on both? It is hard to sift through all of the sensationalist reporting, but if you can sort through a variety of sources, you will likely find something valuable.

The OWS protests act as the ideal contemporary example for examination. Whether or not you agree with what is going on is of lesser importance. What is paramount is whether or not you actually understand what is going on.

If the description in the first line of this article seemed perfectly accurate, then step away from your biased and uninformed opinions and seek out more information. If to you, the OWS protests appear to be something fun to take part in, then you too must examine the cause and see if it is truly what you are passionate about.

Commentators say that OWS began because observers of the Arab Spring felt the need to find a cause. Others argue that the OWS protests are an inevitable consequence of patterns of economic actions and decisions in our country. It is likely that many participants have little idea about the overall goals and see the protests as an opportunity to join a trend. Casting aside the ignorant followers, at least the leaders have latched onto a cause and understand their desired ends.

So, whether you are sympathetic with the interests of the OWS protesters or you find them reprehensible, it is important that the ideas are understood prior to exposure to biased media. At the very least, it is advantageous to view bias from many sides as opposed to a few, concentrated sources.

Don't fall victim to ignorance or brainwashing.

The principles are part of the wider goals of a liberal arts education: preferring reason over dogma and discovery over apathy.

— Burns is a junior from West Lafayette, Ind., majoring in political science. He is studying abroad in Istanbul, Turkey.

— Kirkpatrick is a junior from Overland Park, Kan., majoring in political science.

opinion@thedepauw.com


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