Citizenry needs to stand up and speak out, hippie or not

Chris Briddick

Chris Briddick

On a recent day, my biggest worry was whether I could find time on a meter near the student union.

I wanted to avoid an added cost to my cup of coffee. That’s all changed within the last 24 hours.

Yesterday, my brother was deployed. Brought to you by Stratego of the oil rich-and-famous. He’s a husband, father of two, you know the drill.

I tried being angry, but the situation is so absurd. To think my brother was sent to war by the same guy who once traded Sammy Sosa away from an already sucky baseball team.

May 4 is also approaching and I cannot forget a group of college students who found their way into history when their trek to lunch across campus was mistaken as an anti-war riot and they were shot by national guardsmen at a place called Kent State, my old stomping grounds. Thankfully, we are far removed from the oppressive tone of 1970 when a conservative president bulldozed individual freedom and intimidated scores of people protesting the war in Vietnam. Er right?

As much as I am nostalgic about the 70s and miss hippies, I don’t think protesting wars should just be for hippies anymore. Furthermore, South Dakota has the lowest hippie population per capita in the United States, not counting original hippies who we fondly know today as the status quo.

Whatever happened to dissent in a democracy, be it carrying a sign, firing off a letter to the editor, or picking up the telephone?

All seem to have gone the way of the Democrat, Dennis Kucinich notwithstanding.

As the death toll rises in Iraq, who will stand up and say enough is enough, starting the dialogue to bring our troops home? Our leadership has failed us. The common citizenry is fearful of being perceived as unpatriotic. The year 1970 is punking us all over again sans Ashton Kutcher.

The first Turkish President Mustafa Kemal Ataturk once said, “Where there is no freedom, there is death and destruction.” Ataturk’s wisdom sounds like Bush’s battle cry for Iraq. It may eventually be the epitaph of our post-Patriot Act democracy, unless we are willing to keep our own personal freedoms alive and well here at home.

Death and destruction will continue until we are willing to explore the ultimate possibility of peace. The alternative is a 10-year presence in Iraq fueled by the 18-year-olds draft carded with a one-way ticket to quagmire. This might mean that “we the people” take the lead where our government has been performing so poorly as of late. Break out the signs, write a letter, pick up the phone and speakup. Bring them home.

Like Bob Dylan once said, “Don’t follow leaders, watch your parking meters.”

For those of you returning in the fall, good luck finding a spot close to the student union. Who knows, maybe they’ll have a Starbucks drive-through by then. Until fall, I wish you peace. Say a prayer for my brother and for them all. Yurtta Sulh, Cihanda Sulh.

Chris Briddick is a teaches in the College of Education and Counseling. Reach him at [email protected]