Did you see the reports on the violence at the campus of UC Santa Barbara? This past Monday, 4/7, the annual “Deltopia” party got out of control, resulting in injuries, destruction, and arrests. Hopefully, change will come of all the hand-wringing, blame-laying, and general cleanup that has come in the fiasco’s wake.
I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this sad news. Many college campuses have similar rituals. If you’ve read Don Miller’s brilliant book, “Blue Like Jazz“, you know all about Renn Fayre at Reed College in Oregon. At my almost mater, we had something called Spree Day. Classes were cancelled and partying became the order of the day. (This was before the word “partying” became synonymous with sex, drugs, booze, and nothing more.) These events are meant to allow students, either before or after the pressure of tests and projects, to let off a little steam.
As if life is so hard for American college students.
The funny thing is that, a couple of months ago, I had the privilege of visiting and biking around the UCSB campus. It’s darn close to paradise. It’s a gorgeous campus overflowing with social and educational opportunities. There are dorm rooms that overlook the Pacific coast with a view most people will never know. When the occupants of those rooms open their windows, they hear the surf and feel the breeze gliding off the ocean.
Oh, yeah, and it’s pretty much 72 degrees year round. I wanted to enroll then and there.
As I rode around that utopia, I wondered whether the students there had any idea of how fortunate they are.
The truth is that students on American college campuses (and UCSB, more than most) could be the single most privileged class of people on the face of the earth – maybe in the history of the world. What they (and maybe all of us) should be doing is setting aside a day (a week, a month, forever) to drop to our knees and thank the Living God for the undeserved blessings He has showered upon us.
I realize that not every student, or person for that matter, recognizes God as the source of these blessings. But blessings they are and, one way or another, most come from outside the beneficiary. If you choose not to give thanks to God, pick one or all of these:
- Thank the parents who pay most of the bills.
- Thank the government that often subsidizes (especially at UCSB) the cost of education.
- Thank the taxpayers who foot the bill for those subsidies.
- Thank the teachers who pour their hearts and souls into educating students.
- Thank the people who simply show support with love and assistance when needed.
Can there be any other reasonable response to such gifts than gratitude? It’s a duty, yet a joy, paying dividends far greater and for far longer than getting drunk for a day and throwing rocks at police.
Why not start a new tradition? Gratitude Day. Pray, write thank you notes, help others. Do anything to take the eyes off the self – where all these problems begin – and gratefully recognize the interconnectedness of each of us.
There’s little chance of that tradition devolving into riot.