Life continues on despite tragedies
May 4, 2007
September to May, another eight months on Earth: A middle-eastern war against god-knows-who for god-knows-what rages on, still no end in sight. American death tolls pass 3,000. Iraqi deaths are too many to count. Even more die in Africa: in Sudan, Zimbabwe, from guns, from AIDS, from displacement and hunger. North Korea tests a nuclear weapon while Saddam Hussein hangs by his neck.
Another eight months in America: population reaches 300 million, not counting the illegal immigrants we tried our best to expel. We argue about samesex marriage while gas prices reach new highs and corporate citizenship hits new lows. In November, four days before "Democrats" regain "control", Malachi Ritscher, 52, sets himself on fire in the streets of Chicago for the sins of his country. In April, a disturbed student at a school in Virginia takes the lives of 32 classmates, and then he takes his own.
Another eight months at UW-River Falls: A $30 million University Center opens to mixed reviews while suddenly rendering two campus landmarks obsolete. Mason Jennings tells us to cure AIDS. Dave Coulier tells us to "cut it out". Our e-mail crashes twice, hornets take over North Hall and a snowstorm cancels classes for a day-and-a-half. Through it all we wrote essays on Sundays, drank whiskey on Saturdays and on Thursdays, we did both. We planned our futures, argued about our pasts and tried hard to decide our stances by the time we had to speak. Who is right and who is wrong and what does it all mean? TELL US NOW!
But here's what they didn't tell you: there is nothing inappropriate about indecision and nothing irresponsible about reflection or even regret. Standing up for what you believe in is always preferable, but beliefs can and should be amended from time to time.
Stubbornness and pride have brought down mighty civilizations, stunted righteous revolutions and made fools out of respectable people.
Anything that moves as quickly as life has got be open to some interpretation, right?
Look around. Another eight months has already passed us by. Real lives filled with corporate jobs; mortgages and disillusionment creep closer every day. I don't know about you, but I'm terrified by the prospect of growing up and being forced to accept the improbability of a life with the inevitability of death.
But what can I do? What can anyone do? Life goes on, with or without our consent. The fact is the times are always changing; they always were, whether we can see it or not.
So until humans have mastered time travel, or erased our tortured memories, the only real choice we have is to take what we've learned, thank the people and the places and the things we've learned it from, apologize to those we've wronged along the way, and try to get a peek at some of the big answers before it's all over.
As for today, I'll miss what I miss, accept what is past, drop the grudges, mend the bridges, take a deep breath and...
Tyler Liedman is a student at UW-River Falls.