Home > Musings > Keep your eyes ahead…

Keep your eyes ahead…

I was reading Dreams From My Father, Barack Obama’s autobiography, and was struck by a passage from it. Obama had graduated from high school, and was talking to one of his grandfather’s friends, whose name is Frank. Frank has just asked Obama what he wants to get out of university, and Obama replied that he doesn’t know.

“Well, that’s the problem, isn’t it? You don’t know. You’re like the rest of the young cats out here. All you know is that college is the next thing you’re supposed to do.

“Understand something, boy. You’re not going to college to get educated. You’re going there to get trained. They’ll train you to want what you don’t need. They’ll train you to manipulate words so they don’t mean anything anymore. They’ll train you to forget what you already know.”

From what I’ve seen this far, I absolutely agree with what Frank said. We (the students) condense the forest of life into two trees: school and partying. You go to class on a Monday thinking about what a great weekend you had. By Wednesday, you’re looking forward to the next weekend. You study for exams, all the while thinking about how drunk you’ll be getting when you’re finished for the semester.

Sure, you can have discussions about politics and philosophy with nearly anybody you meet. That is one of the greatest things about university: the opportunity to have intelligent conversation any time you like, with people who know what they’re talking about. But when it comes to activism, to turning talk into action, we’re lazy. We’re apathetic. “I have readings to do”; “I have papers”. Or is it that activism is neither school nor partying?

Most of my friends are in rez, so I can’t really speak to the mindset of upper-year students, but I have to say – getting people motivated to do anything is almost impossible. They’ll have a great conversation with you, but when it comes time to commit to doing something, the same involvement is notably, and regrettably, absent – and this does not sit well with me.

There are clouds in the sky ahead – who will lead the way if not us? Clouds bring the rains; who will farm the land they leave fertile?

We all have things to do, people to see, places to go. We all have commitments and obligations. But what of the obligation we have to ourselves? To the freedoms we hold so carelessly; to the beautiful lands we don’t notice until we leave; to the brothers and sisters that we will never meet?

I know I can change the world. But I also know that I can’t unless you stand beside me.

You wouldn’t leave me hanging if I were asking for help with my homework. You wouldn’t leave me hanging if I were asking for a high five. Why would you leave me hanging now?



  1. 24/12/2009 at 5:47 pm

    I share these sentiments greatly. I don’t think this type of mentality is limited to campus though… it it is merely a microcosm of a much bigger problem. It is only noticeable on campus because the topics are discussed.

  2. 25/12/2009 at 8:15 pm

    very nice post thanks alot bookmarkd!

  3. Cally
    03/01/2010 at 10:40 pm

    I also agree…and it applies to all of life in my 30 years of corporate and not-for-profit experience, not just uni! Which is why we need leaders to inspire others and help them make a difference. As I tell my students, it is execution that really counts and “walking the talk”…not just the theory.
    So, lead on Tim :))

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