Not too long ago, I got to interview a group of college students who were enraged over what they felt was an important issue. The students, ranging in ages from 18-21, all belonged to PETA (for those of you who don’t know, that’s People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and were students at the University of California at Berkley. When I met up with them, they were preparing to embark on an important journey. I asked them to explain their choices.
“Well, like, we were watching videos on You Tube,” said Toby McNoclue. “And we came across this nature video. It was disturbing.”
“Yeah,” added Jessica Dogooder, jumping in. “I couldn’t believe the cruelty.”
I probed deeper to get more answers.
“Like, there were these lions, and they were like totally eating this zebra,” interjected Holly Erehead.
“Yeah, and like that poor zebra was still alive and everything,” Bradley Gowidacrowd chimed in. “It was completely gross. Really.”
“That poor zebra had feelings, and those lions just ignored the impact their actions were having on the zebra’s emotional state,” stated Dr. Jen TouchyFeely, faculty sponsor for the campus charter of PETA. “These students are showing tremendous leadership by standing up for their ideals.”
I asked what the students planned to do.
“Well,” Jessica said, speaking for the group. “We’re flying to Africa to form a protest against the lions, like, demanding that they totally respect other beings’ rights to life.
“We hope to convince the lions to stop eating that disgusting meat and become vegans like us,” Toby McNoclue added.
Concerned for their well-being, I asked the students if they believed that their protest was well thought through.
“You’re like just too close-minded to believe in the power of change,” Jessica Dogooder returned. “It’s white bigots like you who totally trample the rights of other nationalities.”
Accepting their criticism with my usual Irish grace and composure, I wished the charming young folks well on their trip.
“You’ll see,” McNoclue said. “Our generation is totally gonna change this world because we totally understand technology. Like, when I was playing Farmville, I totally learned how to grow enough food to feed the entire world.”
The students all high-fived each other and their faculty sponsor and left for the airport. Naturally, I returned to my close-minded existence in Tennessee, but I left the meeting feeling a little more optimistic about the future thanks to the wide-eyed wonder of young people with an optimistic vision of the future.
(Editor’s Note: This piece was composed several weeks ago and was set to run simultaneously with the students’ return from Africa this month. However, our staff has been unable to reach any of the students in their remote village. While neither Dr. TouchyFeely nor their parents have had any contact with any of the students since their plane first landed, she assures our staff that they are simply too focused on their good works to answer their phones, log into Facebook, or return emails.)