My message? Bush Cheney 04. The receptivity of my captive audience? Best evidenced by the key-gouges along the driver's side door. Isn't free speech wonderful?
I was asking for trouble though, pushing that agenda in the halcyon People's Republic of Boulder where they have a different understanding of "the B-word" and babies get eaten while dogs sit at table in cafes and coffee shops.
I did not fit in, and that was evidenced not so much by my behavior, (which was inexcusable, particularly on weekends) or my dress (equally regrettable, but hey, I was undercover...) What was glaringly evident, and what no amount of cursing and keg-standing could conceal, was the blatant ideological discrepancy between my actions and my beliefs, and those of my water-bonging comrades. At least they were practicing what they preached, or, er, what their Nalgene bottles and sweatshirt pins proclaimed.
Anarchy, chaos, tolerance, diversity, co-existence... all euphemisms for "Anything goes... don't judge, me bro." Anything, that is, except for Christianity. God(s) forbid anything reeking of patriarchy, crusades, or misogynistic male-dominance should influence modern thought. It is especially abhorrent to be a woman and to be oppressed by the Man and the Man's religion: I am basically an embarrassment to my gender.
Anyhow, having escaped college, shreds of dignity intact, I began to experience a curious side effect from those years of defensive, machine-gunned retorts to incredulous professors and classmates: I had forgotten how to think. Maybe that's not entirely accurate, but somewhere along the line, it was clear that I'd become somewhat reactive in my reasoning, so accustomed had I become to fighting a losing battle of ideologies.
For four years, there were precious few opportunities I had to reasonably and rationally dialogue with another human being. Rather, I trudged through the requisite lesbian feminology 101 courses, completed my advanced studies in revisionist history of the evil capitalist, and spent the majority of my library hours pouring over texts outlining various deviant sexual behaviors of the 20th century (I was a psych major, I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.) For nearly half a decade, I kept my head down and my mouth shut, at least when not being directly provoked. It was easier, I realized, after a semester's worth of naive effort, to write the desired paper on the appropriate topic spewing the acceptable rhetoric, than to explain the grades I received when I ventured outside the lines.
But after college, finding myself thrust back into reality blinking and slightly stunned, it was some time before I returned to any sort of mental equilibrium. I'd venture to say I'm still not quite there, (as evidenced by the blood pressure spike that accompanies commercials for birth control or anything on MTV) but I'm getting there.
"There" being that magical place where ideas are debated freely and reasonably, and everyone is sipping a cappuchinno or a glass of wine as they ponder the merits and logic of a given argument. The place where CS Lewis met Sheldon Vanauken and company for cigars and brandies and vigorous discussions of Hedonism and Atheism and ultimately, Catholicism, (whether or not they recognized it as such) bidding each other fond farewells not with curses and raised fists, but calling to each one as he departed "Go under the Mercy."
That's where I wanted to be - still want to be - and where I thought I was going when I put my first 10 grand down that summer between graduation and orientation. But I didn't find college to be quite the meeting of the minds and the marketplace of ideas I had anticipated. What I found, rather, was a culture in crisis, imbued with the depth and integrity of one of those blaring bumper stickers. What I found was a whole lot of showy activism, lots of protesting and waving of signs and chanting of mantras, but very little... substance. (Not to be confused with substance abuse, of which there was plenty.)
No, here in America, on the hallowed grounds of the University, is where we find the most debauched, deranged, and depressed symptoms of an ailing culture that is gasping its last. As we crumble, intellectually and morally, we're going down from the inside out, and nowhere is that more apparent than within the walls of academia.
What can I suggest for other grads in recovery? A healthy dose of skepticism- real skepticism- a stepping back and examining from afar the ideals and values accumulated over your years of study. A calculated evaluation of the results of actually living relativism, not merely espousing it from behind the podium. Observe people who are practicing what they preach, read some books that are 200, 500, even 1,000 years old... and reintroduce your mind to rational thought. Logic is not dead, it's just been hiding for a few years while you buried your nose in bad philosophy and discovered your own brilliance (while simultaneously realizing your parent's idiocy.) It's not too late for us, the few, the proud, the public-schooled...