Offbeat Academia: Apathy abounds among most students

So many students have a cause they want to fight for, but few go as far as the Bell Tower preacher to be heard.

If the entire range of social issues was a kickball game, and the goal was to promote awareness of your cause and firmly stand for your beliefs instead of running circles around a field, and I was team captain, I would totally pick the preacher guy at the Bell Tower before I’d pick you.

His commotion and noise would kick the ball of conviction right over the outfielder’s head. His dignified commitment to Christianity would lift our team’s spirit. Most importantly, his knowledge of the Bible and prowess in navigating its morals would stun any 9-year-old trying to steal third base.

But most students don’t find his playing tactics impressive or welcome. They find him annoying, overwhelming, aggressive and inappropriate. Some even allow him to further sour their moods.

Despite the confrontation and opposition he may face, he’s still there on most nice days, telling you why you’re going to hell. He is determined to save you from your imminent, sinful downfall. He is motivated by your promiscuity, your theft and your homosexuality. Keywords: determined and motivated. This guy knows how he wants the world to be, and he will shove it down your throat.

I’m not preaching. I haven’t been blessed with the ability to speak the word of Christ, and I have no intention of converting you to any religion. Additionally, I’m not supporting this vigilante preacher’s approach or his beliefs.

What I’m getting at is your apathy. You name this guy the bane of your existence, but how can you blame him for being loud and radical in his method of spreading awareness? What are you doing? What do you stand for?

Don’t wave your Whole Foods Market canvas tote bags in my face or your Rosie the Riveter tattoos or Che Guevara T-shirts.

Does the preacher attempt to convince anybody of Christ’s existence by simply walking around campus with a cross around his neck? Your trendy symbols don’t mean anything if there is nothing concrete to support them.

Thus, we’ve arrived at the problem: social awareness has become so popular that media and markets can sell it. “Activism” is prepackaged and sold to you in handy kits, like PETA stickers.

Suddenly, awareness is enough, and being conscious of an issue is exhausting all your efforts in the cause. Consequently, apathy becomes acceptable, as long as you’re not racist, sexist or homophobic – as long as you can empathize with those who don’t eat meat, those who struggle in nonprofit jobs or those who can’t get married. It may not be convenient to cross the line into action, but at least you’re aware, right?

It’s not enough.

According to a 2007 survey conducted by the Pew Forum of Religion & Public Life, 78.4 percent of people in our country identify themselves as Christians. On the other hand, “Vegetarianism in America,” a 2008 study conducted by Vegetarian Times magazine, found that 3.2 percent of the nation’s adult population identify as vegetarian.

Again, I’m not promoting Christianity, just comparing the effectiveness of the gospel with that of Pamela Anderson.

I want you to start yelling. If you have something to say that’s important to you, let everyone know. Stand on the opposite side of the Bell Tower and preach your beliefs. Tell people what you think is wrong and what’s right.

OK, so, there’s figurative “yelling,” as well. In fact, some of the most impressive activism has been done without yelling, but rather with silence. You can be loud without even making a sound.

If you have a cause or something worth fighting for, you have to defend it adamantly. It is going to take more than knowing the situation exists or even publicly displaying it on your denim jacket. Listening to socially conscious music will not make you a better person.

The world needs more noise – consistent and provocative noise.

Sarah Sanders can be reached at

1 Comment

  1. Truer words have not been spoken. We are a generation that is writing our history in the passive voice.

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