The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
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Starting them off young

 Starting them off young
Starting them off young

Starting them off young

Owing to a continuing friendship with a former teacher of mine from my middle school days in Plano, some of my recent writing, specifically my account of the anti-war protest and my column in the Nov. 12 edition of The Daily Campus (“Stop the insanity abroad”) were forwarded to her students at her current place of teaching, Highland Park High School.

Apparently I went over quite well with some of them, and found myself invited to give a guest lecture in class one day. Having never delivered any kind of lecture like that before, I was naturally apprehensive, but I gladly took up the offer.

A large part of the reason why I bother to write columns, letters and the like, lies rather obviously with my desire to inform as much of the public as I can about the ideas I have come to and the truth I feel I hold, so that it will spread and multiply.

I sometimes feel like Cassandra, who in Greek mythology was doomed to know the probable future and yet be unable to do anything about it, since no one would believe her. I look at the past and look at the present and cannot help but think that complacency is akin to complicity in whatever occurs, right or wrong.

It sounds like a tired line to be trotting out again and again, but the fact of the matter is that each one of us is responsible for the predictable outcomes of his/her actions or inactions. In middle school I attended a guest lecture by a Holocaust survivor, who touched repeatedly on the dangers of complacency.

In the mid 1920s, Germany was a functioning democracy, with a Jewish president no less, and was regarded as one of the most cultured and civilized societies in the world. The Nazis at that time were just a group of failures that met in bars and made noise in the street, and were largely ignored by the general public. But by 1933 they were in power, and by 1939 their leader was on the radio telling his public that their army was returning Polish fire.

I essentially told my audience all of that, though I was also careful to make mention of the Spanish Civil War, in which thousands of volunteers traveled to Spain to fight and die in an unsuccessful effort to prevent to victory of fascism. After all, if fascism ever came to dominate America in the near future it would probably be non-racist, in a manner similar to Franco’s Spain.

I told them that our current government is hell-bent on embarking on a war that holds wide but thin support at home, with even less support elsewhere in the world.

I told them that the American government is now viewed around the world as a menace to its own citizens and to the rest of the world, and, judging by this government’s own official statements, this view is held with good reason.

I reminded them that even fascist dictatorships are vulnerable to internal dissent, and those governments have vastly more power to control their citizens and subjects than our government does today, at least for now.

I listened to some questions, offered some advice, and generally did all I could with the time at hand. I’m trying to avoid smarmy statements about “molding the youth of today,” because reaching out with such a message to an appreciative audience of intelligent and creative adolescents is less about preaching and more about inspiring.

My own hubris may be going overboard at the moment, but I’d like to think that what I did Tuesday morning in Highland Park High School fits in perfectly with the sustained public engagement and activity I feel I am duty-bound to perform. Such things snowball and can eventually reach a critical mass.

In a world where a Sydney newspaper describes the opening ceremonies of the Olympics in Salt Lake City as “the biggest display of nationalist chauvinism since Berlin in 1936,” complacency is as dangerous than ever, or more so. I cannot sit back and embrace inaction, or even just stand around and wring my hands, as I feel unable to do anything to face the madness.

I have a good feeling that much of my audience will feel the same way.

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