How different we all like to think we are! How radical and revolutionary we are in our thinking! We’re different to be different, edgy, against the establishment. There are no rules, no judgment. Accept anything and everything.

A few weeks ago, as I sat waiting to meet with a couple of professors about starting a business using technology they had created while working in a university, I had the opportunity to sit and write. As I sat on campus in one of the many coffee shops and gathering places for students and faculty, working on an article, I also had the chance to observe. This particular campus and university is known somewhat for its “individuality” and its “anti-establishment” philosophy. As I sat and observed, I could also hear a rather animated debate on a host of topics between these “radical” thinkers. Many were clearly of an age to have been raised in the 60’s and 70’s. These were the “non-conformists” of that generation. And as I observed they were intent on continuing to be non-conformists. Yet as I observed and listened, they didn’t quite succeed. Why?

They Were Radical, But Now They All Wear Khakis and…

As I looked at the group, everyone could have been wearing a uniform. They were all in khakis—of varying ages, wrinkles, and brands—but khakis. They all wore “those” sandals—with socks. Some even had on dark socks (much like the ones they would have mocked their parents for wearing in past years). They—male and female—had ponytails of varying scraggly lengths and varying amounts of gray. They wore round, wire-rimmed glasses perched upon their noses. Backpacks were scattered amongst the chairs, so there was no way to tell which belonged to student and which to faculty—or even which person was student and which was faculty. It could have been that the younger members of the group—those without the graying hair—holding forth may have been the teachers, for they seemed to be the conservative voices.

Looking at the Tableau

As one of the generation that was considered “radical” and observing my generation as it ages, and watching the generation that THEY raised shrugging aside the yoke of responsibility and accountability, I can’t help but think “What are we left with?” The revolutionary khakis have birthed angry music and an often apathetic “someone else should do it” generation. We’re in a world where fewer and fewer people are proud of our nation, and who don’t recognize what the USA has contributed and does contribute to the world.

What was the counterculture now wants acceptance, and on the world stage. It seems that the radicals of yesterday are working hard for acceptance and popularity in the “mainstream” of the world. Rather than looking for the path of benefit to the world, the tendency seems to be to find the bandwagon the world seems to be riding on. For example, without looking at, or for, long-term consequences, this group wants to improve the conditions in developing nations by impacting the ability to have access to economical sources of food and fuel versus supporting and pursuing avenues that create shortages of food and fuel and drive prices up artificially on both. But consider this: Are the “green” initiatives more about stock prices and capital markets than true green initiatives? Who is asking about soil conservation, water, use of pesticides and fertilizers, and the limited availability and renewability of land for growing crops? What about droughts, soil erosion, depletion of minerals in soil, water table contamination, and other implications of fuel sources depending upon growing cycles and land that can be overworked? What about weather, insects, disease, and a host of natural disasters? No one seems to be thinking about these things, but simply repeating what they’re hearing from pundits and mainstream media.

They Were Radicals, and Now They Follow …

What is left of the radical of yesterday? Khakis and socks in sandals, graying ponytails, and strident voices parroting the words of commentators and mainstream media and publications. How radical and thought provoking have our universities—and any of our thought processes—become if all our thoughts are handed to us along with our mode of dress? It is hard to believe that revolutionary thought is truly revolutionary any more, when it is provided on the 6 o’clock news and can be purchased as the latest “thought provoking” saying on a T-shirt to wear with your khakis.

Copyright ©2008 Lea A. Strickland, F.O.C.U.S. Resource, Inc.

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