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What the Campus Protesters Don’t Understand About Civilization

What the Campus Protesters Don’t Understand About Civilization

Recently, when disembarking a flight, the “thank you” I gave the pilot and crew was not perfunctory. Although my gratitude probably didn’t seem effusive from the outside, a depth of emotion touched me after I delivered it.

Airline travel is one of the miracles of modern living, requiring human cooperation and coordination. Deeply, I felt the human connections the miracle of airline travel requires.

I’m still thinking about that recent flight. As I grow older, the miracles of human cooperation and civilization profoundly touch me. Since I live in rural America, flying takes a few more steps and hours of travel than for most.

A staggering number of people, visible and invisible, support modern travel. Think of people who work in auto and aircraft factories or parts manufacturing, the people who mine and refine raw materials, the farmers who grow our food, the truckers who transport food to restaurants serving us while we travel, the employees of the airlines, airports, car rental companies, hotels, and on and on.

After the flight, my next stop was the car rental counter and an interaction with Carlos. Carlos explained how my evaluation of him would help him reach his goal of moving up to management. Most companies who deliver a service strive to create cultures that align their employees’ self-interest with their customers’ interests. Carlos seemed genuinely warm, but had he stayed in Cuba, would that side of his potentiality be developed? The interests of commerce led Carlos to develop the better side of his nature.

On the same trip, I found a restaurant I returned to many times over a week. The staff spoke little English, but I still made a warm and friendly connection.

Since the profit motive drives good service, the instances of poor service are jarring. Things mostly go well, and we simply don’t notice the web of human connections supporting our efforts.

We don’t notice how we are so fortunate. We arrogantly forget how quickly we would perish if we depended solely on our own efforts.

“99% of our present population would perish in even a primitive, foraging society,” Leonard Read observed in his book Students of Liberty. He added, “Man is interdependent! And his existence on this earth beyond a primitive state requires a recognition of this fact and a knowledge of how to deal with it skillfully.”

Consider how this contrasts with the recent pro-Hamas protesters on college campuses. These protesters assert a claim of moral superiority, lecturing us about the greed of capitalism. The privileged life they enjoy is because of capitalism, but they are ignorant of the civilization that they are working hard to destroy.

The protesters have vandalized campus buildings built by others for those who valued learning. Their professors have rejected the study of Western civilization’s scholarship and ideas in favor of Marxist revolutionaries.

How dependent the protesters are on others was brought home when a Columbia University protester begged for “humanitarian aid” (food and water) for the protesters. Yale professor Nicholas Christakis wrote of the protester’s plea:

This is the way someone who has never been Yale challenged to defend her views with facts and reason speaks. This is someone who thinks she is winning the battle of ideas simply by articulating her desires. Someone her university has not taught.

Will the protesters learn that when you step out of civilization, life is not so luxurious?

Unlike Carlos, the protesters are developing the worst side of their nature. They are full of venom and hatred for Jews and America. As Read wrote, “The alternative to violence is love.” He continued:

Love, as here used, refers to the application of the kindly virtues in human relations such as tolerance, charity, good sportsmanship, the right of another to his views, integrity, the practice of not doing to others what you would not have them do to you, and other attributes which result in mutual trust, voluntary cooperation, and justice.

This is what these protestors have rejected in their detest for society.

A quote is widely attributed to Einstein, but there is no record of him saying it: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is.”

The sentiment may sound good, but it misses the mark. There is a third, more typical way of living life: mostly forgetting that everything is a miracle but sometimes remembering. The future of civilization depends on remembering that if we forget what creates the miracles of modern life, others will be tearing down what we fail to defend.

Image credit: Unsplash 

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  • Avatar
    Bill Dettmer
    May 14, 2024, 3:44 pm

    The protesters of whom you speak are mostly no more than sheep led and coaxed into bad behavior by the 50% of their number (documented by arresting officers) who are professional outside agitators serving someone else's hidden agenda. The tents were all pretty much identical, suggesting an organized mass purchase.

    While your points are all quite valid for a legitimate protest for altruistic reasons, I believe your points fall largely on deaf ears in the case of these protests.

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  • Avatar
    Raymond E Burby
    May 14, 2024, 4:48 pm

    Great observation and perspective. Truly points worth pondering. Thanks.

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  • Avatar
    Cynthia
    May 14, 2024, 7:20 pm

    Thank you for this timely and thought provoking read.

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  • Avatar
    Leslie Miller
    May 15, 2024, 9:41 am

    I grew up in the 1960s, a time of turmoil in the US. Protesters sprang up from college students protesting American's involvement in the Vietnam conflict, and some died for that position. Feminists protested the treatment of women, others marched for equal rights under the law for black Americans, and hippies protested the American lifestyle so tied to money that they "dropped out" of American civilization (sort of).
    Public protest has a long history in America, though. The Boston massacre in 1770 threw rocks at British soldiers protesting British taxation. The British soldiers opened fire and killed 5. (This is a very abbreviated retelling of the event.) And in 1773, the famed Boston Tea Party saw colonists boarding a British ship loaded with tea and dumping the precious leaf into the Harbor.
    New York Irish protested the drafting of their young men into the War Between the States largely because of the policies that allowed wealthier men to avoid the draft by "buying" a substitute to fight in their place as well as the exemption of free blacks.
    The anti-war protests of the 1960s and 70s are too numerous to isolate just one, thought Kent State comes to mind.
    What makes the current protests seen now is the artificial nature of their conduct. As my learned co-responder noted, they are being fomented and financed by others whose intent is to cripple civil discourse and disrupt daily activities. These who are behind many of the protests prey on the passions of college students who don't have the discernment to recognize they are beginning used to promulgated someone else's anti-semite and anti-America agenda that has nothing to do with the crisis in Palestine. The students are dupes for these seditionists.
    Of course, my response here understates the place protest has in our history, largely because American history books have also downplayed them as well. We Americans don't like upheaval and collective violence. We don't want to consider that it is a part of of the warp and woof of our past. True protests, however, arise almost organically out of a desire to make visible the protesters' disputes with governing bodies. That is why these treasonous organizations promoting their own agenda need to be outed vociferously!

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    • Avatar
      OBloodi Heille@Leslie Miller
      May 21, 2024, 5:00 pm

      }}} I grew up in the 1960s, a time of turmoil in the US. Protesters sprang up from college students protesting American's involvement in the Vietnam conflict, and some died for that position. Feminists protested the treatment of women, others marched for equal rights under the law for black Americans, and hippies protested the American lifestyle so tied to money that they "dropped out" of American civilization (sort of).

      And, following that, set out to ruin all of Western Civilization. They've attacked the Rule of Law, the Free Market, Capitalism, and promoted the insane death cult called "Marxism", and, when Marxism failed so miserably that the USSR collapsed, instead of recognizing the blatantly serious flaw in the ideology as Venezuela went down the tubes, they just revised it to cultural/racial Marxism… Then taught that same insanity to their children.

      That generation better hope there is no God, because I suspect He will look unfavorably upon how they ran their lives. I do not speak for Him, but I think He may have the same and greater issues with what they hath wrought, that match my own.

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