This weekend, our news feeds will be cluttered with eulogies of “Never forget 9/11.” But like the American flags waving on every car window, so too will these status updates fade into oblivion, revealing their inherent shallowness.
I do not accept this. In fact, I have a challenge for you: If you say you’ll never forget 9/11, back it up!
As Americans, we have access to information; our elected representatives are accountable to us, and we may protest. In short, we have the capability to become an extremely informed citizenry at the vanguard of democracy. Sadly, most Americans don’t. That makes it crucial for you to do so.
Start by educating yourself. Learn about Islam. Learn about global hot spots. Learn about the strategy behind our “War on Terror.” Bottom line: knowledge is power, specifically the power to transform your petty opinions into persuasive arguments.
After you’ve learned enough to make your opinion worth listening to, ensure that this will be the case! Call your congressional representative or senator! Hold our legislators accountable. And never be afraid to dissent!
When a Marine I know had to write his own eulogy in case of death, he wrote that he “cherished” the right to dissent. America wasn’t built on slavish obedience, but on often cynical and occasionally violent dissent. If the pundits say we should do this or that, or the President raises the call to arms, don’t get taken for a fool.
It’s easy to wave a flag and “stay the course;” it takes a lot more guts to put yourself at odds with what may seem like the forward momentum of history. But status updates and yellow ribbons don’t cut the mustard. The only way to truly “support the troops” is to ask “why?” It is to question every action, from the overall decision to fight to the strategic considerations. It is to support Department of Defense funding, while scrutinizing pork-barrel spending. It is to demand justification from Congress and the President, and then some.
Or in a word, it is to dissent. Today, we mourn. Tomorrow, we act!
Matt Bosakowski is a senior majoring in political science. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.