February 27, 2010

War and Terrorism

I. Origins

When in the course of human events it become necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another...

In this cold Michigan winter, it is much more easy and convenient to only care about the everyday things in life—having enough money, working, going to college, taking care of your family—that most people seem to push the broader United States picture into the foreground of their minds. Even if the curious intellectual should probe into the present historical times, he or she would be faced with terrorism, famine, a growing gap between rich and poor, and an overall pessimistic view of America's prospects.

College students have a unique opportunity. Even though we may come from poor backgrounds or farms, we are given the opportunity to learn about current times and hopefully acquire the weapons necessary to fight should our national integrity be threatened.

Estimates from the Census Current Population Survey November Supplement suggest that the voter turnout rate among young people in 2008 was one of highest recorded.

A bell in my head rings. I pick up what remains of my backpack and head out the door in a thick winter coat. It is dry and cold in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The morning cuts into my skin with the claws of an unrelenting force, and yet the sun is rising like every other spring day. Cars, truck, and buses pass by my house on Fuller Avenue as I wait to cross the street.

My life is the life of my mother before me. Like her, I agreed to going to college without any real plan in mind. Of course, I get a little more financial aid than she did, and she is much more supportive of me than her parents (my grandparents) were of her. However, standing on the sidewalk waiting for the cars to pass, and feeling the gnawing of a breakfast uneaten is something my mom remembers quite well.

At the beginning, every college student is poor.

Even if you come from a rich family that can pay for your college tuition, there is more to being poor than just monetary wealth. For the first eighteen years or so, the average American lives off their parents' income. In consequence, after so many years of being dependent, many college students remain in this mindset if they immediately transition to college without any “real life” experience.

Arriving to my Economics class after slipping and sliding in worn leather shoes, my face has been washed awake by the winter onslaught of my morning trek. I am one of the rare Juniors in a general education class of mostly Freshmen and Sophomores. I take off my coat and backpack, open my backpack, take out my notebook and pencil, and sit down.

II. Education

We are often said to be the foundation of the future—the young and bright, the knowledgeable elite that will be the law makers and providers of the next generation. Our professors, parents, and, to some extent, present policy makers have invested in this theory. Until recently, even federal support has been fair and logical.

That is, until I found through my own predicament that the world does not follow the perfect world that the FAFSA seems to outline.

In order to be independent, you must:
- Be 24 years of age or older by December 31 of the award year
- Be an orphan (both parents deceased), ward of the court, or was a ward of the court until age 18
- Be a veteran of the Armed Forces of the United States
- Be a graduate or professional student
- Be a married individual
- Have legal dependents other than a spouse
- Be a student for whom a financial aid administrator makes a documented determination of independence by reason of other unusual circumstances

When students who work to pay tuition and books, stacking up $30,000 in loans by the time they graduate, as long as their parents income exceeds the poverty line, defined by the government, a student cannot be considered independent unless he or she fits these criteria.

The Economics textbook, Wealth and Democracy, I am borrowing from the library. While opening it up and browsing the pages, the professor of the class talks about traveling abroad and learning from Europe the ways of better economy. He plays a video. I learn that the U.S., in relation to other world leaders, spends the most in military might while having a poor health care system. Seven hundred trillion dollars ($700,000,000,000) were spent on the war in Iraq while citizens in the European Union get free or low-cost health care. If their child is sick, the nearby hospital will treat him or her free of charge. I am astonished. I had known that America was not the most efficient country, but to the extent of being poor at everything except war... Then, I take my eyes off the movie and find half the class glossy-eyed or sleeping. (Yes, one guy was sleeping)

III. Government

Through ignorance and fear, the government has been leading America in the footsteps of the British empire before it. Think back to your history classes. When Britain was a world empire, it spent most of its wealth of expansion and colonization, i.e. war. The gap between rich and poor grew exponentially due to overseas trading and pirating. However, that empire collapsed due to the expenditure of resources and the weakening of colonial bonds.

I, nor my family, nor any of my friends' families, have ever been attacked by Muslims or the Taliban. Though tragic, the deaths from the bombing of the World Trade Centers numbers three thousand. 3,000 of the 300,000,000 U.S. citizens were killed that day. Yet—due to the escalating economic problem as a result of stretched resources, war expenses, and federal debt—15,000,000 citizens remain unemployed.

When I return home after classes, I am exhausted but thinking. Later that night, I get a call from my mom, who wants to know what's been going on in my life. I tell her. The car isn't working for some strange reason, and I found that the registration expired in last June. I have only rice and Ramen in the pantry. I need a job as well as volunteer hours to keep my school scholarship. I need to apply to study abroad and get letters of recommendation. But, I told her about how I learned in Economics class that the U.S. was in bad shape, and that we should do something about it.

“That's all good to a point.” My mom said, echoing motherly word of wisdom, “But, right now you should be focusing on yourself and what you want to do. When you have established a good foundation, then you can worry about the world.”

Right now, our jobs are sent to China, our wars are fought in the Middle East, and our clothes are made in Taiwan. Terrorists want to destroy the U.S. from the inside, my professor said to a class too young to understand what that means. A class too blunted by protected lives. A class too ambitious to stop and take a look around. I believe, he said, the U.S. doesn't know what war really means.


1. What should America's future government decisions address and ultimately solve?
(Please support your thesis with examples from history)

No comments:

Post a Comment