By Shi Davidi
Ryerson students: It’s time to put your apathy aside and get involved. Too many of us have sat idly by for far too long. It’s becoming easier and easier for those in power to push us around. Tell them you’re not going to take it anymore! Join this year’s Student Days of Action. In the past decade, tuition has risen by 167 per cent. An astonishing 60 per cent of students are receiving student loans. We are being streamlined into programs the business community wants us to take, not careers we want to pursue.
The value of arts programs, which teach us to think, argue and question authority are being demeaned by the premier of this fine province. If you pay attention, you will notice we are being groomed to become the obedient tools of the business world and obey the commands of a government which caters to the demands of the rich.
Does a future of sitting in front of a computer screen in a veal-fattening pen, doing mind-numbing work while someone else reaps the profits scare you? It should, it’s what you’re facing.
It’s time for social change; time to battle the unjust; to release the oppressed; to free the exploited; and give prominence to the marginalized. It is time to act, to revolt. Revolution is about forcing change. It is not about bloody overthrow or the slaughter of the innocent. It is about forcing society to alter its thinking. Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “Every revolution was first a thought in one man’s mind.”
While revolution begins with one man, it can only be successful through the actions of many. The ideas of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke set off revolutions that would end monarchic rule in England. however , nothing would have changed if people had not acted upon these ideas.
Jean Jacques Rousseau’s writings were given real meaning only when the French revolutionaries took his scruples to heart in 1789. The French revolution, influenced by Rousseau’s writings, changed the face of Europe forever.
This century, Vladimir Ilitch Lenin expanded the theories of Karl Marx, but his ideology could not have been realized without thousands of loyal Bolsheviks.
So while revolutions need ideology, their strength is in numbers. Students have one power at their disposal – numbers. There are plenty of us and together we are a formidable presence.
It is easy to find examples of what students can accomplish when working together. Just last year Serbian students protested the annulment of municipal election results. Through relentless and creative demonstrations they eventually gained national support and reinstatement of the election results.
Think back to the massive student protests in Tiananmen square. The image of one student standing in the path of a tank brigade, bringing it to a halt, should be etched in your minds. Imagine the strength of that young man’s convictions to risk his life. Yes, students were massacred, but remnants of that movement remain to this day and its accomplishments are unquestionable.
The Chinese and Serbian students both felt ignored and marginalized. They did not sit idly by. They did not complain and allow the injustices to continue. They united, rose up and fought for their beliefs.
We have the power to do the same. We do not have to be the now cliched ‘Generation X’, made up of apathetic, discouraged, over-worked, underemployed twenty-somethings.
If we stop complaining and begin acting, people will take notice. And if we are ignored: we revolt.
Lenin wrote: “Judge people not by the glittering uniforms they don, or by the high-sounding appellations they give themselves, but by their actions and by what they actually advocate.”
Listen to what the people in power are telling us and then look at what they are doing to us.
See you at the protests.