The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, September 09, 1997, Page 5, Image 5

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    Another Emerald City?
We must learn to blaze our own trail, not follow Yellow Brick Road
■' • •• j
. - . . -
STEVE CULLEN is a
junior advertising major
and a Daily Nebraskan
columnist.
Money. Power. Fame.
The Jag. The House. The high,
six-digit salary. A white picket fence.
A perfect marriage, with 2.3 kids and
a dog named Spot. You get a job and
work your hours. Have some barbe
cues on the weekends and yell at the
tube when the home team screws up.
That’s the American dream and the
way it looks today.
Here we are at the state universi
ty, pursuing a degree as we’re sup
posed to do. We study, hang out with
friends, and try to cut a slice out of
the big pie for ourselves. Everybody
I know is either in a relationship or
looking for one, has a job or wants
one. They all say: “If I had the coin
for it I would.”
Does it all seem a bit cookie cut
ter-ish to you? It’s time to stop and
ask, “why?”
Do we do it for the cash? The sta
bility? And why are we doing it any
way? So you can take a nice family
vacation with your 2.3 kids to Disney
World? Bullshit. I don’t buy it.
We’re all told that there’s this
blueprint to “success.” Success. What
is it anyway? Why do I have to fol
low the Yellow Brick Road? Why do
you? Do we do it because of obliga
tions and pressures?
Screw it-bum’em.
I’m gonna throw a punch at the
CBA. Every time I’m in there there’s
some fiick’n thing on the power tie, how
to work the interview and how to work
up the corporate ladder. Can you hear it?
“Follow the herd - be a sheep -
keep your mouth shut and your eyes
forward. Don’t ask questions and
don’t let the doorknob hit you in the
ass on the way out.”
I may seem incredibly anti-insti
tutional (I feel so), but look at my
hypocrisy. My father: a high-level
exec in a finance firm. My mother:
several degrees in political science
and law. And me: die worst of it -
I’m in advertising. Am I getting
sucked right down conformity lane?
Why is it that I can’t escape? Has
modem culture won out over free
will? Are we victims of the beast’s
insatiable appetite to smooth out the1
wrinkles? I have too much faith in
the human spirit to think so. That
leaves you and me to find out why
we’ve been brought up to think it’s 9:
percent blood, sweat and tears; 5 per
cent laughs, smiles and cheers.
After a summer of workshops,
internships, travel and vacations,
while meeting some of the more suc
cessful people around, I thought I
would be more clearly set on the
issues of where my life was going.
You know what? Now I’m scared.
I lose sleep over it. It’s like I’ve
tasted the forbidden fruit and nothing
will ever be the same again. Fruit like
this only makes you hungrier - you
are never filled or satisfied. And in
the end, you could choke on it while
rushing to consume it all before the
clock runs out. That’s how I feel
about realizing how big the world
really is. And how small I really am.
That s why people just plug along
and don’t ask questions, man. They
keep their world small and manage
able. If they trip, there’s a wall close
by to hold them up. The view isn’t
that great, but they don’t know it
because the rooms are too small to
have an outside window. So we con
form and 9 to 5 it. We fear the burden
of the forbidden fruit.
Is the world getting smaller?
That’s a pathetic cry for comfort. It’s
getting bigger. In older times your life
was the tribe and the world was flat
Now, we may colonize Mars. It seems
like now is the time: We have the time
to ask questions, we have cutting-edge
technology to discover the answers,
and we have the ability to connect
with other worlds. Yet we put on our
wool coat and try to stay away from
the big bad wolf like everybody else.
It seems that we do whatever we
can to order things, to sequence
them. We create governments to
order our lives on earth and create
religions to make us feel as though
we’re heading for some place witfi
order. We do this because it’s easier
to live this way. We set up the world
to make our decisions for us. We’ve
become too proficient at being
human. We’ve created a society that
now creates us.
The question is this: If we
don’t follow the Yellow Brick
Road, what is there?
Nothing, and that’s the
beauty of it. There is no
road. We must blaze our
own trails.
Ask yourself: Am I get
ting this degree simply to be
more marketable? To whom,
and for what? How effective
will you really be if you’re "
only doing something you like,
and are just good at, and not doing
something you love, and for
which you have passion? For whal
will your life stand?
We need the institutions we have
- rather, we can no longer function
without them. Like the hon
eysuckle and the humming ,
bird, we have evolved insepara- '
bly - for now. We may need the
honeysuckle, but do we need the
same one every day? \
Why not try a new '
one? Maybe in a new / -A
garden, a new place, or up / / Jm
the side of an 18,000-foot '/ Jjjk
mountain! Understand that I , ! Ham
believe in competition. Paying ifM|
the price provides its own
value, and in any job it’s how
you do that job that brings
meaning. But can we J
improve the meaning of the feaj
job while were at it? That W( m l *
would make the world that JT
much better and
mankind that ; i
much worse. r
I invite all those ^
reading to look at the
road ahead of them. See
if it ’s well lit and well
paved. If so, stop the
car, get out, and toss a
match in the gas tank. m
Use the light from the
past you’ve just left
behind to illuminate the —
way to your greatest
adventures ever.
See yourself with
some drama and wonder
at the marvel of your
imagination. F—k the
Yellow Brick Road.
Your biggest fear in life
shouldn’t be trying and
failing, but waking to the
day when the alarm clock is your
worst enemy.
Matt Haney /DN
Brutal force 0
Minorities seek safe house in a society where not all law enforcers serve, protect
eric e. crump is a sopho
more political science and
sociology major and a
Daily Nebraskan colum
nist.
It’s a safe bet to say that Abner
Louima has a stereotypical view of
police. If he is anything like other vic
tims of police brutality, no doubt a
range of emotions (hate, anger, fear)
will accompany any encounter he will
have with a police officer for the rest of
his life. Why? Because a few weeks
ago, several of New York’s finest took it
upon themselves to punish Louima’s
alleged transgressions with a toilet
plunger. As a result, Louima now has a
severely damaged colon and bladder to
accompany his mental scars and
wounds.
In retrospect, he apparently got off
lucky. He could have suffered the same
fate as Brother Guadalupe in Omaha,
or Brother Francisco right here in
Lincoln. He could have died in police
custody, as countless other men and
women of color do in precincts all
across the country. But he didn’t; he
survived - so that he could look over
his shoulder for the rest of his life.
What was it that Louima did that so
enraged the cops? Did they first
sodomize him with a shaft of wood and
then place that same shaft of wood in
his^ mouth for hreaking up a fight,
which is what he was doing when New
York’s finest first came upon him?
What is it that Brother Guadalupe and
Brother Francisco were doing? What
were their crimes?
Their only crime was being a per
son of color in a white world.
This speaks to a central fact of the
police system. As long as this country
is racist, and continues to turn out
racists like some grotesque, ideological
factory, police brutality will exist. And
this police brutality almost always
refers to violence against people of
color.
It’s ugly truth time. The role of
police in the Divided States of America
is to maintain the status quo. (If you
don’t know what the American status
quo is, you have an academic deficien
cy in history and should take remedial
readings.) Just like the systematic
denial of opportunity in the economic
and educational spheres, the American
police state regulates the social mobili
ty and mainstream integration of the
American Minority. Police presence in
the inner city - typically populated
with minorities who have the least
invested in the system, and thus, who
are the most revolutionary - exists not
to stop crime and maintain order, but to
keep the ghetto residents “in their
place” - acting as a modern-day poll
tax or grandfather clause. The police
force’s weapon of choice, blind, violent
suppression, effectively “beats” the
will to struggle out of the American
Minority and replaces this pride and
resistance with fear and hopelessness,
resigning them to quiet acceptance.
Thankfully, not every police officer
enforces this strategy. Like any other
cross section of society, there is varia
tion: There are good cops am/bad cops.
The catch, which will haunt Louima for
the rest of his life, is figuring out who is
which. If Louima didn’t have any
stereotypical views concerning cops
before, he undoubtedly has some now.
He, like many other people of color
(irrespective of whether they them- j
selves have been attacked b»y police), j
will assume that all police lire racist,
even though this is not true. His stereo
type is created out of self-defense. As
many other people of color, he will
develop a mistrust of law enforcement
officers, perhaps to the point where he
will even refuse their help if a crime has
been committed against himself. This
kind of prejudice is no more wrong
than believing that all blacks love
watermelon, but it is easier to under
stand. It’s also easier to stop.
The police just have to stop beating
up minorities. Or at least offer a counter
example.
After all, when was the last time a
white person died in police custody?
M
As long as this country is racist, and continues to turn out
racists like some grotesque, ideological factory, police brutality
will exist. And this police brutality almost always refers to violence
against people of color.”