Revving of a revolution

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You can feel it in the air. On Facebook. In the streets. On CNN. America is changing, and changing quickly.

Despite the absurdity of many of the events that are transpiring on a daily basis in America, the one form of protest that captured my attention, and signaled a fundamental change in the American public’s approach to government, occurred at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, where Betsy DeVos, the acting US Secretary of Education, was speaking about education reform. During the speech, students stood up abruptly with hand-written signs that displayed messages that read ‘White Supremacist’ and ‘Our Students Are Not 4 Sale,’ messages that referenced the shocking incompetence and lack of knowledge on the part of DeVos. The most-shocking part: it was expressly clear that the students had no reservations about making their opinions known, nor any fear of the consequences.

There are several reasons why this form of protest at this event is particularly noteworthy. First, it demonstrates the fact that, in Trump’s America, both sides have been emboldened to speak out against the respective opposition; this type of civil disobedience has developed in tandem with the increase in racially motivated hate crimes, anti-Semitism, and increase in public displays of aggression and discrimination by the American public. Both sides now find themselves at an unprecedented level of intensity. For every reaction, there is an equal and opposite political consequence. That’s how the theory goes, right?

Secondly, the setting could not have been more perfect. Harvard University, the pinnacle of academic excellence in the world, played host to an egregiously rich, political faux pas in the flesh, without any legitimate grasp or shred of understanding on just how the American educational system works, never mind how to amend the situation. That simple juxtaposition demonstrates just how far we have deviated from the norm in the first year and a half of Trump’s America.

The underlying motif that this form of protest has spurred to the forefront of American society is extraordinarily encouraging. It signals that, regardless of the potential backlash from the public, private citizens are willing to put their reputations and their lives on the line for the causes in which they believe. This is truly revolutionary. Furthermore, it harkens back to the times of revolutionary change in American history, from women’s suffrage to the Civil Rights Movement to the Vietnam War. America has been presented with such a polarizing political climate that there is no recourse but to commit unreservedly to your position, even in the face of inevitable backlash.

I wrote an article several weeks ago about the Stoneman Douglass survivors, and the incredible efforts that they have organized to fight for gun-control laws. In the end, they were successful in pushing lawmakers to pass legislation on the issue; the actual effectiveness of that legislation remains to be seen. However, it corresponds with the general feeling of American politics: a world in which Donald J. Trump holds one of the most powerful offices on the planet is the same world in which 17- and 18-year-old, high-school students have the power and the platform to impact meaningful changes that others have sought for generations. For that reason, I continue to espouse my pride at being a part of this generation. Ultimately, we will pave the way for America in the coming decades, and maybe it’s about time that we took up that mantle without further hesitation.

Nevertheless, it seems that it has become increasingly difficult to live peacefully in Trump’s America. Between the barrage of political atrocities and the seemingly absent response on the part of leaders, daily life has taken on a new sense of arbitrariness in which it is sincerely challenging to distinguish between right and wrong. It is in these times that we must seek hope in the advocates unafraid to sacrifice themselves for the greater good.

Change is coming. The question is: Are you ready?

Michael Schiumo


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