The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Cast The First Stone

Naive and ignorant of all political ineptitude, religious fanaticism, and gut-wrenching wickedness, I sat in Mr. Toner’s Calculus class.

I was a 17-year-old senior at Chaminade High School and the date was Sept. 11, 2001.

At the time, my main concerns were passing this impossibly ridiculous math class, boosting my SAT scores, and saving up enough money for senior prom. The thoughts of hatred and destruction never entered my mind.

We’ve all heard the cliches repeatedly, that the events of that day forever changed our society and that our lives would never be the same, but when the dust settled and the murdered were laid to rest, America awoke still na√ÉØve and ignorant of political ineptitude and religious fanaticism. We remained only aware of the gut-wrenching wickedness that was witnessed on that horrific day.

I did fairly well in Calculus, though I have forgotten mostly all of it. I raised my SAT score by 20 points and I saved plenty of money for prom. I had a horrible time, but according to my mother I did look quite handsome in that tuxedo.

Now, a 21-year-old senior at St. John’s University, I have witnessed a similar horror, though thankfully this time not as a direct observer.

Once again we, the American people, have been consumed by everything surrounding the disaster that is Hurricane Katrina. Every story, sorrowful or uplifting, is eaten up by those of us that are sympathetic, apathetic, clueless or confused.

Perhaps it hit home more for college students when we realized that our peers at Tulane University, Loyola University, Southern University, Louisiana State University, and countless others throughout the region, have been eyewitnesses to devastation that has shattered all that they know.

What they have seen can only be compared to the hate-driven acts that students at Pace University, New York University, Cooper Union and our own Manhattan campus saw on Sept. 11, 2001.

Four years later and we have witnessed another horrifying event, another flood of tears. It has come to the point where I am running low on adjectives to describe the exact nature of these events. Referring to the aforementioned abominations as tragedies, sorrows or disasters just doesn’t cut it.

After careful observation of the recent occurrences, I cannot identify the worst part of it all- a reality which is a disgrace in its very existence.

Is it that the ravaged Gulf Coast has been transformed into a virtual third world country by the ferocious and merciless power of nature?

Is it the thousands that have died, the thousands that have clung to life in subhuman conditions and the thousands that have cried out helplessly onto deaf ears as government agency after government agency has proven to be incompetent at best?

Is it the fact that the states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama have been somewhat forgotten and left to fester in the squalor of racism, poverty and political ineptitude?

Is it President Bush saying upon his arrival in the Big Easy that he had favorable memories of partying in New Orleans and that he looked forward to enjoying time on Trent Lott’s new porch after the former Republican majority leader rebuilt his Mississippi home?

Our generation has lived through a torrent of events that have greatly affected us, a reality which begs the question: Where is that same rage that our parents’ generation exhibited after they saw the lies of a president and the alleged injustice of a war?

This is not to downplay the magnitude of either the Watergate scandal or the Vietnam War protests; I merely look to juxtapose the events and the reactions and after I do so, I cannot help but see a brand of apathy that I cannot define.

One obviously cannot make this claim without evidence, so I present the following facts.

The number of days from the Watergate break-in to the resignation of President Nixon was 782. The number of days from the invasion of Pearl Harbor to the surrender of Japan was 1,340. The number of days that the Civil War lasted was 1,457.

The number of days from Sept. 11, 2001 to today is 1463 and growing, as is the reason for questioning on our part.

Four years ago, America woke up na√ÉØve and ignorant of political ineptitude. After being thrust into the latest round of gut-wrenching wickedness, it is contingent upon our generation to make sure that when we wake up it will be without that stigma.

Virgil, the timeless author of the Aeneid, once wrote that “Their rage supplies them with weapons,” when referring to the Trojans battling the indigenous people of Italy.

As corny and simplistic as it sounds, perhaps rage on our part as college students would supply us with the weapon of understanding that will undoubtedly show the many faults and blemishes upon our great country as well as the beauty, tradition, and strength that makes it great.

Do not accept everything you hear in class, on the news, or in the paper. Question everything.

That is perhaps the simplest of our tasks. There are those who volunteer with the Red Cross, join the Peace Corps, and are extremely active with state and local government amongst other activities. Activism should not be expected but it is certainly desirable.

This column is not a pedantic call-to-arms, but is instead a reminder of responsibility that is often forgotten by all of us, with myself being as great an offender as any.

Four years from now, I will still be na√ÉØve, unaware, and ignorant but hopefully it will be less than I am now and hopefully my peers will pick up the slack.

 

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