Mohandas Gandhi once said, “The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.” Gandhi certainly was an optimist. As a 24-year-old law student originally from Long Island now living in Austin, Texas, I feel uniquely qualified to address my generation’s pessimism. What Mark Rudd, Kent State and Richard Nixon didn’t do, my generation’s sense of humor and conception of governmental ethics accomplished in full.
As the newest contributor to HeadCount’s blog, my goal throughout the next several months and beyond is to move you away from the pessimism of disbelief to the optimism of can-do. I vow to be explicitly nonpartisan and urge the formulation and support of as many perspectives as possible. The issues I will discuss will vary but, in keeping with HeadCount’s mission, I intend to delve deeply into subject matter which polling data has shown to be significant to the organization’s key demographic. In my quest to turn bong to Bono (weed to Wittgenstein?) and gossip to go-getter, I have three primary goals.
Above all else, I seek to combat apathy. I want my readers to want to learn more about the complex intricacies of modern Malthusian thinking. I want to encourage a debate on whether, 55 years later, the Supreme Court’s landmark Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas decision was truly one of optimum beneficence. If I can get just one of you to take some time out of your summers to read something other than Phantasy Tour, other than festival artist additions, other than Paul Languedoc’s wood preference, and quite frankly, other than me, I will consider my time here a success.
Secondly, I wish to enhance the value and influence of debate in the live music community. Too often, I hear political deliberations among strangers devolve rapidly into Howard Stern microphone volume bickering matches where the loudest “wins.” While I won’t deny I have never lost any of those arguments, neither has anyone else (except of course Sophie Fowler Gallaudet, but she wins less than the Mets in September.) My point is merely this: making a statement about politics is one thing (“You’re wrong you putz!”) but backing it up with reasoned, logical and rational argumentation towards the noble purpose of intelligent discourse is truly great (“You’re wrong, as evidenced by the data in the 2000 US Census, this Reuters poll and as exemplified by a paper written by Thomas Putzinson, a leading academic scholar in the field. So, you see? You really are a putz.”) Raising the level of dialogue is the best thing ordinary citizens can do when a democracy is troubled.
Lastly, President Obama has made a major point of stressing the significance of public service. I want to remind readers that while the President may be referring more specifically to volunteering to teach or mentor in an underprivileged community or joining the Peace Corps, there are plenty of uniquely positive tasks which ordinary citizens can do to demonstrate their interest in improving America. I want you all to know that becoming more educated about the issues which confront us on a daily basis (the treatment of War on Terror detainees, the perceived legitimacy of governmental institutions, the changing intellectual property landscape and the counterbalance between cultural and political ecology in feeding the poor, to name a few) is a wholly different yet altogether equally noble public service. If your responsibilities as a stockbroker, “heady burrito maker” or flat-out "college know-it-all," won't let you commit to the extent the President suggests, the best you can do is to educate yourself. Serve your country by preaching the gospel of knowledge.
In closing, I hope that you will use the HeadCount blog as a springboard towards constructive criticism, laudatory praise, or, when all else fails, cite data confirming by putzhood. All of this is fine, of course, so long as you refrain from saying anything I disagree with. That was a joke.