A Plea to All: Be Pro-Social, Not Socialist

John McDonald’s article defending the International Socialist Organization serves its main purpose to state the ISO’s mission. However, it underlines the shortcomings of many extreme left/right movements. Opposition parties are very good at living up to their namesake through vehement opposition, but it’s all too easy to point a finger at what’s broken if you’re not wearing the tool belt.

Sure the ISO has shown dedication to their cause by standing outside of Bailey-Howe to recruit and “enlighten” new members, but how are such recruits truly served by membership? Do they earn the right to spend next semester standing outside of Bailey-Howe hawking books and preaching societal atrocities?

A knee-jerk response to such a question may bring up the idea of the ISO “practicing” what they preach by marching down I-95 to Washington, D.C. and protesting, and it’s great that they are willing to donate their weekends this way. Additionally, such actions are seen as avoiding the tendency to stand on the “sideline.” Yet, these protests only serve to create sidelines, as people stand on the sidewalks gawking, utterly confused and dumbfounded by a dedicated and, most likely, educated mob yelling at white bricks and green lawns.

Now don’t get me wrong. I completely agree with the fact that 39 percent approval ratings for President Bush show that he isn’t doing his job and serving the country. Yet, he is only the face of a discombobulated government. A protest to those in power would need to cover a lot of ground, not just the White House and Capitol Hill, but also 50 state capitals among other locations.

Even with such an obscene effort as that, how much change would be accomplished? Many, including the ISO, have lost faith in the government. Thus, how is yelling at those in power to change their ways going to change anything? The answer is simple: It won’t! Showing opposition to our misguided leaders will do very little, but waiting four years to show opposition through direct action (voting) also is not effective.

So what do we do to help this situation? No, we don’t loath the fact that the Democrats don’t oppose the Republicans enough. Drawing partisan lines, or redrawing them so there is a more defined left, like the ISO proposes, does very little. Our government is one of compromise and debate, and many times it seems like we debate way too much, and the only things that are compromised are the rights of the ignored.

Furthermore, it is our duty to be pro-social and fill the gaps that will always persist. Our country is way too big and diverse to be completely satisfied by any governmental system. Systems serve the majority, and they rely on individuals to lend a hand and serve the rest.

Hurricanes have ravaged the South and children are starving in Africa, but we needn’t look that far to find places in which our aid is needed. Take a walk right down Church St. and you’re sure to see countless people who are short on funds and hungry. Do you think these people, or even those previously stranded on rooftops down South sit around smiling and saying how glad they are because this weekend the ISO is marching to Washington? I highly doubt it.

Hence, I plea to all, take to the streets and give and don’t stand on the sidelines. Run down to the Salvation Army soup kitchen, donate canned goods, or give a homeless person company for five minutes. Sure, if you have time between classes, set up a table at Bailey-Howe and yell to passers by. Tell them to donate dollars or time, but not for books or membership to an official organization, but rather to society. Tell them to lend a hand and spend some time this weekend helping those that are ignored. When it comes down to it, close your mouth and do something that has an immediate effect. Be pro-social, not socialist.