My Country Tis…?

December 11, 2012 at 2:15 pm Leave a comment


by Jason Bradley

 

Recently, I attended the Cooper play “My Coutry Tis…?” It was an original dance show written by staff and students at Cooper High School. Naturally, I was interested in how this was going to turn out. The dance numbers told a story, while student-composed monologues/dialogues were interspersed in between. This was going to give me insight to the minds of the next generation coming up.

The dance numbers were well choreographed and entertaining. They used humor to prove their point, but it was the message that really intrigued me. During Pink Floyd’s “Money”, a young woman danced around in a green dress, enticing men that were infatuated with the numbers on their pay checks. During the number she proceeded to knock them around, as she continued to allure them with her flashy looks and promises of wealth and material gain. While “Machines to Humans” from Queen played, a tale was told of our interdependency with technology, removing some of the human element from our daily interactions. The dance during the song “Beautiful” from Christina Aguilera outlined the complex young women have with the image that is pushed upon them by the media as acceptable, and learning to be proud of who they are, no matter what.

The monologues also were very insightful. There was an ongoing dialogue between two politicians that were campaigning against each other, and by the end, their statements were utterly ridiculous. Neither candidate was informed or competent. The students also spoke their minds on eradicating discrimination and how outlandish our language has gotten in the texting age.

In number after number, I got to see what our youth really thought about work, debt, power, family, media influence, individualism, and following their dreams. No matter what we see happening in our society, with the American Idol approach to making important decisions about what we believe by taking public consensus (even using bullying in the name of stopping “bullying”), I know that the ideals of individual empowerment and liberty are there. How do we keep those ideals alive in the next generation? Somewhere between high school and entering the work force, this go-along-to-get-along mentality creeps in, and the majority of people don’t want to rock the boat. The young adults used to be more than eager to take a stand against the injustices they saw in the world. They challenged “The Man”, and eagerly took on new causes. Now, the closest we seem to have from our youth is “Occupy Wall Street” which is demanding more intervention, control, and assistance from “The Man”. Where has that spirit of rugged individualism gone that has pervaded American thought for most of our history? Do our youth really want to be given stuff and told what to do in everything, rather than to reach out and grab hold of an idea and press on to achieve something great? Not these high schoolers… at least not yet.

This production was definitely worth my time. I was entertained, but also reassured, in that our youth are concerned about the power of the individual. They are aware of the trappings of money, technology, others’ expectations, and control from government or corporate entities. They understand that they have the freedom and power to do whatever they choose in following their dreams, and that the path may or may not include college. They see right through the puppet show that modern politics has become, and that neither major party is trustworthy, or seems to have any good answers. The power is in the individual. No government, corporation, peer group, college, piece of technology, or other outside influence should ever define us. We do our best work when driven by the passions given us at our birth. The power of the individual has given us the car, the refrigerator, the telephone, and every other thing that has made our lives easier. The power of the individual has shown care to millions of orphans, such as Mother Teresa had done. Too many people today fall into a nice, comfortable, corporate job, and dream of doing something different with their life for 40 years. My hope is that as our youth who believe in these ideals get out of the shelter of schooling and enter the work force, with all of its trials, they can weather the storm of life, remember, and live up to these values that they expressed in this play. I also hope that these ideas are not of a small group of creative people working together, but that they belong to a wide group of young people of all ethnicities, beliefs, and upbringings. If that is true, we just may have a future brighter than our past. If I can give you one piece of advice… it would be to remember how you feel about these things, and that you are willing to take a stand and speak out for freedom and individuality (even when it’s unpopular). Push for your dreams, and remember the importance of bringing up the next generation with these values. When you are your best you, everyone around you will benefit. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

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Entry filed under: Community, Education. Tags: , , , , , .

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