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Bouche '14: Time for spring ideological cleaning

Though I have nearly completed half of my time at this school, Brown continuously amazes me. At any moment, a student can simply pop open his Brown Gmail inbox or read the signs splattered on our walks and greens to find the flurry of information shot our way. Potentialities and possibilities radiate through our mental spheres like the energy pulsating from WiFi and cell phones, invisibly pervading our bodies. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are constantly exposed. By simply clicking on Morning Mail or inspecting the multitude of listserv emails we've never managed to shake, we can reach in an instant the massive network of possibilities in which we are embedded.

Events and lectures constantly cycle. The University consistently attracts top researchers in their respective fields along with adored, renowned and controversial figures from academia and modern culture. All of this lies just beyond our grasp, easy to reach if only we outstretch our arms to meet those already extended in our direction.

Then the cold begins to thaw. Sunshine melts away our winter resistance to the world outdoors. We flock to green spaces in masses, fling Frisbees and sling slacklines, while tables of student groups set up to recruit support for each cause. Fences, banners and installation art materialize in the night to further seize our attention and strikingly portray the scale and severity of complex global issues.

Over-stimulated by the barrage of social, political and environmental awareness espoused by our peers, Brown students are generally assumed to have a solid conception of the challenges and necessities of the 21st century world. However, though we constantly discuss many different aspects of culture, it can seem as though we never examine our own.

Busy lives force us to rush past signs and stands as we jaunt to class, hit the library or pull all-nighters for a last minute deadline. The average assembly or protest gains only meager support, even when propositions are highly relevant and widely supported throughout campus. When we manage to sink into the bliss of freedom from obligations, we gather in the warm rays and open space, kick back with friends and savor the day. The eventual sunset or hourly bell disperses the crowds, yet the greens that are left behind do not reflect the bright students who have just used them. Thinking about nothing but the next moment, many drop their trash or simply leave without it. Those who exert nominal effort stack Sharpe Refectory to-go containers above the trash can so that the wind and squirrels can scatter trash throughout campus. Smashed exit signs and broken bottles surround all of this, implying the chaos of the preceding weekend.

As students of the University, we carry a reputation for intelligence and ambition in a world certain to face much conflict, yet students routinely bypass the solar compactors to toss more trash into an overflowing pile. Scores of people waste finite resources to avoid the daunting effort of dropping a can into the next bin over, because recycling is hard. And each day, so many of us go about in these various states of ignorance while every poster we pass slaps us in the face with the hypocrisy of our actions.

On our own, it seems as though we are unstoppable. As individuals and in tightly knit groups, we make breakthroughs in research, build communities and travel the world to spread our knowledge. Yet as a collective entity, the Brown community does not match the devotion of its constituents. The merging of so many powerful forces lacks the epic character expected from a gathering of so many creative and productive souls.

Outsiders would find it striking that today - like a trace left by a creature in its natural habitat - a lawn covered with trash is the mark of a Brown student gathering. With such prevalent apathy in a sea of awareness, our collective actions often do not merit the renown we receive.

Instead of perpetuating this disconnect between ambitious individuals and the lackluster whole, we must synthesize what we learn and achieve in our academic pursuits with our social knowledge. If the potential we exhibit as individuals becomes manifested in the masses, our wills will coalesce to create a community reflecting the true nature of the individuals who comprise it. So stop, pause and breathe deeply as you flow through your day, and speak out and spread knowledge as you go.

Adam Bouche '14 isn't too lazy to pick up his trash. He can be reached at




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