Tuesday, November 20, 2007

School Kids and Good Intentions

You need to raise your awareness.

Some self-righteous student in my Political Science class, who embraced the woman of color identity, actually said that to me in a class discussion. I cannot recall the topic, but that hardly matters. She saw a number of disagreements as those that should be fixed with re-education. She probably meant, "Someone should help raise your awareness for you."

This occurred on the same campus where, at this exact time of year, students camped out on the green to help understand and raise awareness of the plight of the homeless.

Even then that struck me as profoundly stupid. Now it seems even more arrogant. These are the kind of folks that may measure their level of activism and political action by the number of bumper stickers on their cars. They love to show you all their causes.

Anway, that was back in my college days at St. Thomas. This weekend, one of my priests introduced a member and local student who camped out on the church grounds with about 50 other people in a similar manner. He spoke about his experience, the homeless, and charity. Perhaps there was more to it. If there was more to it, he didn't mention it. I suspect there wasn't anything more to it... and that's the problem.

Sleeping out in a box with plastic wrap on campus or in your church parking lot doesn't really do anything. In fact, you've taken away valuable homeless-commodities... not that they will show up on the grounds of many suburban churches or on campus in a fairly good St. Paul neighborhood.

What exactly did you gain? You're in school with midterms coming up fast. If you are not going to work on school projects, papers, or prepare for tests you might just do some good working a few extra hours. Do what you want with the extra money you earn. You could buy food or clothes for the local food shelf or homeless shelter. You could donate some of that cash to your local church for Loaves and Fishes. Instead of working (for The Man) you could take a shift at the local food shelf, soup kitchen, or local church program. Other than that, you also could help other friends in school or you could see your family.

Sure, it isn't as much of an attention-getter at school. If you want to be an attention whore and claim you care about homeless folks... go rock your reel, pal. By all means, don't do anything useful. Get freezy-toes and get hungry for one night or even a couple of nights. Get a cold for a couple of days. After all you've got to help raise someone else's awareness.

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