Letters to the Editor

To Mr. Senior-in-Political-Science & Marketing (a.k.a. David Stein):

Honey, all I can say is: Speak for yourself.

On Oct. 26, you attempted to rescue the reputation of all young Americans for their global ineptitude (i.e., everybody thinks we are “blundered by world geography [and] apathetic toward overseas happenings”). But all I read from you, the self-proclaimed worldly erudite, was big-worded fluff. Typical (dare I say?) American behavior. For example, you closed with this: “In the end, it is [a] symbiotic harmony.” What “it” might this be, the dilettantes’ dance of conversing internationals sipping Starbucks extravagance?

I didn’t get your point, much less that you proved anything. With words that tried to elevate poorly defined arguments above daily slang, your meaning remained tiresomely yearning. You blame our shortcomings on society (individualistic focus), our education system, and the “unbelievably high” level of global interest foreigners instinctively possess. It might follow that society’s values are reflected in schools, and I agree, our elementary lessons should emphasize learning another language. But we still lack concern on both domestic and worldwide current affairs (aside of the emotive gullies overrun by the 9/11 events).

I don’t know much about U.S. education policy, or the dualism of religion and science in guiding (or dividing) humankind. But even at our level of higher education there are very few classmates willing to discuss. What many seek (particularly if they’re rich and can spend/drink copious amounts of money/liquor) is knowing where’s the next party: Ibiza, Amsterdam or a sultry Balinese shore. Not that this mental languish is surprising or wrong, for every generation in history (whatever the country) complains of people not knowing or caring. The deeper loss is that we lack a stronger sense of wonder. If somebody doesn’t give us flashy paper that glitters and honks (screaming about the next SoBe bash), we ignore it.

As a marketing major, isn’t it obvious to you how the media controls things? (After all, your background should’ve taught you to use that tool to communicate and sell stuff.) Even if the stance taken or portrayed by media in delivering the “news” is judged erroneous by the critically-thinking populace, the majority population usually does not see that. If we stopped gazing at whatever new waxing salon opened, we’d see the idiocy in buying what magazines/newspapers/Net ads/radio tell us to. As far as newspapers go, they may have a “responsible journalism” code, but their business is selling their paper. Don’t blame them for not leading us from egocentrism.

You also cite the “accessibility of other cultures within [Europe that] doubtlessly fuel an impetus to travel.” But Americans travel lots, too, and in either case, you don’t have to pass a “current events quiz” to go; such concern is not requisite. Do you think Belgians care more about Portugal or Greece than we care about Canada or Mexico? I don’t, especially since the Americas are tied by NAFTA and immigration issues. Your accessibility hypothesis is moot.

The point you contested was we young Americans don’t care about things outside America, or, if we do, it’s a pitifully tiny amount. But nobody can make us care – that decision is ours alone, and so far, we have not lived up to it. Also, we all know our economy, resources and defense system are going to shut up anyone who thinks we’re lacking. Maybe, then, UM should have a kind of competition, where students who are interested in knowing other places can apply, write an essay – then we can send them there.

Oh wait, we already have that, it’s called the Study Abroad Program, and it took me to Australia for a semester.

Joy Yoshina