While Thomas Friedman spoke about the end of the age of average for Americans, students at Missouri Western State University slept soundly, nestled against one another for comfort, in the bleachers of Looney arena.
If your cheeks just blushed, then they rightly should have. If you laughed or scoffed, perhaps you should reassess you college career. See, the point of Friedman’s speech was that this type of behavior is over. Do you honestly think that Japanese and Chinese students even think about falling asleep during lectures or speeches? Currently, there are more honor students in China and India than there are students in America.
For those of you who didn’t fall asleep during Friedman’s speech, my apologies for the recap, but the sleeping beauties in row 17 obviously didn’t get the memo. It’s over. Americans can no longer ride on the financial backs of past generations. America’s golden era of economic strength and foreign policy power is collapsing. To even make a living in America, you have to shine, not sleep.
It’s not enough to get a degree any more. It’s not enough to work a job any more. It’s not enough to be an American anymore. We have to participate in America. This is the country that invented the Internet. This is the country that invented the microchip. This is the country that invented individual sovereignty. Why would you squander all of that, that which all those that have come before us have given, on an extra 40 minutes of sleep during a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner’s speech?
That power nap you took wasn’t just a slap in the face of our university, but a slap in the face to our country and its history. Do you think that Irish immigrants were able to power nap when they came to America? Do you think German Jewish immigrants attempted to escape Nazi persecution for an extra 40 minutes of sleep? These immigrants worked and preserved with a relentlessness that Friedman believes can revitalize our country.
As citizens of America we are lucky that we don’t have to worry about the basic necessities of life. In parts of the world, people of our generation aren’t staying up all night and enjoying the luxuries of life, they are staying up from hunger or fear. No one should feel guilty for being an American, but instead seize the opportunity and not waste it.
America is an exceptional country, but not when its best and brightest are sleeping on the bleachers of its universities. As students, we can do better. As citizens, we owe it to those who came before us to not waste the dawn of such of young country. An American has the most freedom out of any citizen of any nation in the world; undisputed. But, what’s the point if we’re asleep?