Student protesters at McGill and other campuses around North America would be wise to learn a little about life first Photo by Peter Stockland

Protests show young must learn wisdom

  • May 9, 2024

I’ve often said the dumbest place I’ve ever been is university. Said often tongue in cheek, when I see what is happening on campuses across North America right now, it’s really not that far off base.

You suspected it was only a matter of time before the Israel-Hamas conflict would bring with it the occupations of campuses as students across North America harness their inner hippies (remember them? Ask your grandparents, who were real hippies — and cooler) and relive the 1960s, 2024-style. Where the eras diverge is what is shocking. One group was all about peace, love and understanding; today, not so much.

Oh sure, today’s student “radicals” say they stand for peace, yet who do they support? The ones who shattered the peace. And in calling for peace, they place the blame squarely on those who were attacked and are defending themselves — and yes, defeating the attacker is defence, no matter the weasel words used to say otherwise. And try as they might to say differently, these campus protests are the glorification of the Hamas cause under the guise of being pro-Palestinian. There is no hiding the fact that wiping Israel off the map is the goal, the only goal. (“Intifada until victory,” scrolled on a banner at McGill, does not translate as “Peace be with you”).

Especially disheartening is the large numbers of young females who have swarmed to these protests. Sure feminism has evolved, but to the point where rapists who murder women and children are the good guys?

But it is good to see some comic relief — how can you not laugh at campus Che Guevaras who when asked what they are protesting stumble to figure out why they are there. Or demands from occupiers that hey, it’s your building, I’ll take over as it’s my right, now feed me.

In fairness to these youth, those educating them must share blame. In our day, when something was protested on campus you could count on the political science department to show its support for any anti-authoritarian cause, while everyone else went on with life. Now, every “settler colonialist” is on the wrong side of everything in our “DIE”d-in-the-wool upper echelons of academia (and beyond, to our great misfortune).

Looking back, you can somewhat understand where today’s students are coming from. We were once in their shoes. It was cool to go up against “the man.” Decades ago, still young, impressionable — and just arrogant enough to believe I knew everything — that is how I remember thinking of myself as I strode the hallways of higher learning, “the man” be damned. This is university after all; they only let the smart people in here, right?

It took time, but eventually we were brought to our senses and knocked down a notch, or six — no, we didn’t know it all. For me, one enlightening event was a game of the popular board game Trivial Pursuit. My “genius” self dared challenge my “uneducated” parents and some of their friends to a game. Surely as the superior intellect, victory was mine. Overconfidence, thy name is youth — and did they ever let me know. As the game went on and my elders loaded up pieces of their pie, I was left in the dust as they showed me they had already forgotten more than I knew.

It was humbling, but the lesson was one I’ve never forgotten. With age comes wisdom, and youngster, knowledge is something that will be passed down to you, please be wise enough to recognize it.

It is something those on campus today should take to heart. The one thing students need to understand — you really know so little about the world. Sure, you may think you do, but live a little before you believe you can solve the world’s problems through juvenile antics. The world will eat you up if you don’t.

This can be taken in a couple ways. You could be insulted, like me and my generation were when our parents — quite rightly — let us know how little we really did know. Or you can accept facts and realize, yes, I am young and there is a whole world out there that I know so little about, so let’s get out there and discover its wonders, not just jump on the hipster bandwagon.

There is a reason you are still in school: you are in need of learning, and this is a good place to start, emphasis on start. Don’t let arrogance get the better of you. Take what you are taught and learn, and continue to learn, something from it.

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