Shattering the Orientalist conception of passivity and eternal mysticism, the Tibetan people have shaken international news in the past few weeks, and have even moved the Chinese authorities to consider significant concessions.
Deprived of self-determination, enduring an occupation of more than 40 years and waging what is essentially the last anti-colonial war, Palestinians continue to defy the hopes of Washington and Tel Aviv by fighting for Palestine.
Surrounded by a hostile national government and the resurgence of an unabashedly unequal economic system, the indigenous people of Chiapas continue to win the hearts and minds of people across the world and valiantly resist the New World Order.
Whether one sympathizes or opposes these current social movements, one has to admire the courage of those who put aside the concerns of individualism and petty provincialism in an attempt to fight a battle to which they attach supreme importance.
At UT, we look at the movements of these distant lands with confused eyes, if we even notice them at all, and fail to understand such devotion to a cause.
It is a devotion that transcends the ephemeral and often counterproductive concerns of hedonistic gratification and aspires to hasten a different reality. Such commitment is hard for UT students to appreciate, much less understand. For many of them, no cause is a cause worth truly fighting for, in the sense of selfless devotion and dignified endurance that has characterized the fights of Tibetans, Palestinians, and the indigenous people of Chiapas.
The past few weeks, students have found a cause seemingly worth fighting for.
They have become concerned, active and vocal in a collective way that is rarely seen on campus. The cause was framed as “student’s rights,” and its immediate target was perceived injustices in the framework of UT’s conduct system.
For some, this cause may truly be a moral imperative that is worth a moral fight. To others, it may just be a surreptitious tactic to neutralize the unpopular alcohol policies. Whatever the motive, it is clear that one positive outcome of the whole process has been a coalescence of thought and action on a group level that is one of the most beautiful and creative aspects of collective action.
Imagine what could be accomplished if these same students continued this momentum by channeling this newly discovered energy toward even more transformative causes!
The possibilities are right on campus. P.E.A.C.E. is leading a drive for clothing, educational materials, and other necessities that could really transform the lives of impoverished and hopeful children in Peru, to think of the first example that comes to mind. There are countless others.
In the final analysis, it would be truly inspiring if UT students continued to channel their newly awakened desire for change toward increasingly bold and daring causes, causes that are undoubtedly worth fighting for.