I am sitting in the news room, after having woken up way too early and checked the news. After reading the report out of the Daily Cal ("Rioters Clash with Police in Streets South of UC Berkeley") I was filled with an overwhelming feeling of despair. Is this what Arjuna felt when he faced the battlefields? Rioting is not the answer. It's a way to gain attention, sure, but at what price? I understand that people are angry and frustrated - I'm angry and frustrated too. I appreciate the passion coming from these terrible situations. But at the moment, there is a risk of alienating people and losing support. What began back in November as a protest against the fee increases has turned into accusations of racism against the UC system. But just because you're part of the majority race doesn't mean you can afford it either, and just because you are a minority doesn't mean you can't. And now, those who don't share a more radical view of the world are beginning to feel separated from the movement. It is no longer united.
Cort defined it for me last night as "premature concentration," a characteristic that I believe this movement is in danger of encountering. When people have a movement that draws way too much attention to it without a strong support, infrastructure, strategy, etc., they run the risk of having the public opinion turned against them and then the movement is gone. Squashed. By demanding everything right here, right now, nothing is accomplished except for the public's disappointment in the riotous and irrational behavior of the youth. To repeat what has been discussed much over this past week: Success breeds success. Change does not happen in a snap. We cannot expect our society to be fixed in a day. We can work towards it, but that takes patience, understanding and the willingness to dialogue. Again, Cort noted it best: Sometimes, people are so sure they are open-minded that they refuse to listen to the people they deem closed-minded because they feel those people have nothing of worth to say. Do we see the irony in that? I know I do.
The streets of our state are broken. But shouting, vandalizing, misdirecting anger, generalizing...all this accomplishes nothing. Let's not rush to throw stones yet. Let's learn to find another way.