Opinion

‘Peace 2006’: worth a try

A youthful prank, a midnight rave, a statement of principle, a splash of paint on the roadway at the Head of the Bay. It reads: “PEACE 2006.”

Inscribed within one of the numeric ovals are the tines of a well-known fork, creating the symbol of a past generation’s youth movement and counterculture. Yet the center tine is lighter, thinner, as if it were added by afterthought to cover a momentary semiotic lapse. Thanks to a slip of the brush, “peace” looks to the casual viewer like the symbol of the Mercedes automobile, young idealism already descended into smug adult materialism.

Just what is it to which our Bainbridge High School Class of 2006 aspires?

It must be a confusing world to step into as a young adult, when on the week of their graduation, their nation’s best-publicized achievement is locating a man in another part of the world and blowing him up. This, because he himself has blown up many other people whose lives we may or may not really value, given that we’ve blown up plenty of them ourselves in the cause of stopping people from being blown up. That the blood in foreign streets carries with it a sheen of oil – the very substance that makes our own hyperconsumptive, Mercedes-driving adult lifestyle possible at home – problematizes whatever higher ideals our nation proclaims as its raison d’occupe abroad.

And persistent, pernicious violence across the globe isn’t all. Environmental destruction and climate change, hunger and want, looming pandemic, even the fact that our kids won’t be able to afford a house in the community where we raised them...that’s a big batch of worries for graduates.

Peace 2006? Where to start?

Well, we hope they know that it’s not really about the best-publicized achievements (if popularity really mattered, Brad and Angelina would be president and first lady) but rather, the million little good works that go unnoticed every day that keep the spin on the world’s axial tilt. The helping hand, the kind gesture, the good word.

It’s not about what our graduates ultimately do; it’s what they try to do that will make the world around them worth sticking around in.

And today’s students (we believe this is true across the board, although Bainbridge High School may well carry a particular radiance) are equipped for the effort. Modern communications have put the collected knowledge and wisdom of the world at their fingertips. They can, with a few keystrokes, discover everything that mankind has done before them, every achievement, every mistake. They can read, work, volunteer, build, create with resources and dispatch unthinkable a generation ago.

They already carry an awareness, a poise, a sophistication we never knew. Our kids are smarter than we were. Talk to a few of them and you’ll see.

So, yeah, PEACE 2006: a good motto and a worthy goal. Whether our students meant to paint a peace sign or a Mercedes symbol on that roadway, we’re still not sure, but we do know this: Getting that luxury automobile is the easy part; building a street, a neighborhood, a community, a world where you can drive it with a clean conscience, that takes a little more effort.

Class of 2006: Try.

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