Clearly, I remember Easter break 1970. I was in the second grade, seven years old and my parents took my four year old brother and I on a driving trip in our beige Cadillac. We drove into the Washington DC area late Saturday afternoon and the muffler started to fall off the car.  My dad pulled over on the side of the road, knowing that there would not be a place open to fix it until Monday and he took his belt off to attached it to the muffler, put it in the door, closed it and said ““we go,” and off we went to check into the Howard Johnson’s on Virginia Avenue.  We often stayed at HoJos when traveling because they had a great kids menu in the restaurant and the price was in our budget. They were actually pretty nice places back then. Anyway, we went to church on Sunday morning drove around Washington DC and as we drove around, we saw people protesting all over town and when we drove by the Treasury Department, we saw people who had chained

There were numerous demonstrations in Washington DC in the spring of 1970 when my family traveled there for a family vacation for Easter Break.

themselves to the front door. My dad having bought a movie camera for the trip, pulled the car over and started filming (we realized when we got home he had forgotten to take the lens cap off the movie camera). Anyway, my dad‘s filming and while he’s filming, he’s telling us that most places in the world, this would not be possible, especially in the little village of Bouf, Macedonia now northern Greece, where he came from “be glad you live in America.” You better not do that but if you did, it would be legal because free speech is legal here. We went to the Easter Egg Roll on the White House Lawn, got a new muffler and toured the sites.  I remember the pretty pink cherry blossoms. got fixed we went to the egg roll at the White House on Monday, and I remember the cherry blossoms We even got to do a tour of the White House, which was quite spectacular, even for a seven year old. The early seventies were very turbulent times in our countries history. But even with the demonstrations, we felt safe and were able to tour the city.   We look at what’s going on now comment and how crazy it is how disrespectful it is but what’s going on now has happened before. Maybe to a lesser degree or maybe more of a degree But this is not the first time this country has seen unrest. 

     We see what’s going in these demonstrations on college campuses and everybody has their own opinion. I talked to a 30 something year-old last week. As the conversation went on,  I ask their thoughts and what was going on and the comment that the young man made was, “so they protesting against Israel now and next week they’ll be another cause there’s no point in getting caught up in this.” I understand that and it is true. There seems to be a variety of causes and there seems to likewise be a variety of agitators to go along with each cause. We’ve seen this and everything from occupy Wall Street to Black Lives Matter, and on and on.  There is a paid class of actors, such as Lisa Fithian, age 63, who can make up to 300 dollars per day, who show up to these events to add to the drama. It’s unfortunate because it isn’t just the students people coming into campus to create the chaos. What is surprising to me? Is that the college administrators are willing to leg this go on. They allow statues to be defaced, covered with signs, American  flags being taken down and campuses should be turned into campgrounds.

     Everyone has their own opinion about any current event topic. And everybody is entitled to their own opinion and own thoughts. And most people can make a justified argument for their beliefs. Their opinions and thoughts are rooted in their background their life experiences, good or bad. It used to be there where communities, where people could aside politics, religion, and  their own beliefs to get along and have a relationship, despite having different ideas. I think of some of the neighborhoods in Flint Detroit, or any other major city where there were little pockets in the community where immigrants from Russia to Poland to Italy to Germany, where people learn to live together. The kids played ball in the street, they went to school together, congregated at another houses after school and there was an appreciation and a sense of respect for their neighbor. It seems as if we don’t see as much of that that as we used to. I’d like to believe that it’s possible, I don’t think that somebody has to have the same views I have to get along with them, and I think that there are a lot of people who feel like I do.

      It all depends on the Kool-aid someone drinks.  I make reference that, “drinking the kool-aid” (and no knock to the Kool-aid brand at all), the reference comes first from the 1968 book The Electric Kool-aid Acid Test and then lastly the mass suicide in Jonestown, Guyana of James Jones disciples who drank “Flavor-aid/Kool-aid, laced with potassium cyanid that killed 918 adults and children.  Those who died, so believed in Jones Ministry (really it was more of a cult) that they trustingly ‘drank the Kool-aid.” It got me thinking, we all trust and believe in certain ideals and values based on the ‘kool-aid’ we have been drinking. If you are someone who has family from Gaza, you empathize with the people left there and you may side with Hamas and believe what is told to you about the plight of the people who are experiencing the retribution for the actions of October 7 in Israel.  If you are Jewish or anyone who has watched on television or read of the actions of the terrorists on October 7, of course you will most likely feel for the people of Israel who feel a need to defend themselves. If you have a relatives in your family who were part of segregation in the south or anywhere else in the sixties, there could be deeply felt anger and a feeling of unfairness for what black Americans have experienced. This is understandable.  If you are someone who fought in Vietnam and you come across someone who burned the American flag or fled to Canada to dodge the draft, bad feelings or anger are understandable.  

     To drink the kool-aid of a movement of a political organization, a social cause or a person, can be a dangerous path that could have harmful consequences.  A wise person will do their homework and be careful who they align themself with.  To blindly attach their allegiance to a cause one doesn’t carefully know about can downright make you look foolish.  Some of the kids interviewed on tv protesting have no idea what they are protesting.  A young mind can very easily be manipulated and one can be used to further a cause. Hamas must be just licking their chops at the sight of the seas of protestors on these college campuses.  People who don’t feel part of a family are easily influenced.  Kids who don’t have a strong feeling of where they come from and what their family’s values are, will be more likely to find a sense of belonging to some kind of group, even if it’s the ‘wrong’ group.  If kids are not steeped in their family’s values, drinking THEIR kool-aid and what they believe in, they will easily find somewhere else to get their kool-aid from. 

     As adults, we can find ourselves, drinking the kool-aid, if we are not careful of the news we watch, the talk radio personality we listen to in the car, the influences we follow and the friends and company we keep, the websites we read and subscribe to.  Clear thinking people who try to look at information objectively will hopefully decipher what is realistic, what is truth and what is morally right. Just as “we are the average of the company we keep, “ we are the result of the influences around us.  If we have a clear focus and knowledge of what we believe and what is right and wrong, we are less influenced negatively.  

Rolf in the scene from “The Sound of Music.”

     When I see the uninformed students protesting, it brings to mind the scene in movie musical “The Sound of Music” where Captain Von Trapp, played by Christopher Plummer, tries to tell Rolf, not to follow the Nazi soldiers but to leave Austria with his family in the Abby scene where the family is hiding.  The movie takes place in the early days on WWII as the Nazis are moving across Europe to capture cities.

The Nazi regime, was  able to easily influence the youth in Germany of their day. Many young people today are unable to see that they are being used by a cause and organization. A terrorist organization is openly recruiting youth for their cause.  They are drinking the kool-aid of something they may wish they had not. 

Senator, John F. Kennedy, running for President in 1960, proposed his ideas for a Peace Corp, on the steps of the Student Union at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

    For young adults to want to do good and make an impact is nothing new and it can be a good thing.  John F Kennedy introduced the idea of The Peace Corps on the steps of the University of Michigan Student Union back in 1960, as a young senator, as he was running for President. The Peace Corps is an organization that mobilized youth in an organized manner to take on jobs around the world in communities where there is need..  In the eighties, a young woman, upon graduation from Princeton University, Wendy Kopp, utilizing her senior thesis project, started Teach for American to do the same sort of work in large major cities in education.  When directed positively and productively, motivated young people can make a very big positive difference in the growth and development of A community or society.  When I see the protests on television, the message, the anger, the disrespect for academic institutions and law enforcement, it makes me thing how terribly sad. If these are the leaders of the future, we are in trouble.  If insults and bodily harm are considered peacefully protesting and elected officials, college administrators, mayors and other officials won’t allow those trained to enforce safety and the law, they are drinking a kool-aid that of violence harms the society we have established.  When colleges offer classes in activism and how to disrupt a society, and young people blindly follow such non-sense, drinking the kool-aid, much like a cult (back to Jim Jones), we all are in trouble.  

     The rest of the world is watching. When others see  that there are no consequences for such anarchy, there is incentive to continue.  When activists make demands, take janitors hostage, have a Christmas list of gluten free food, snacks, helmets, kneepads, helmets and so on, we can see what kid of people who are causing the trouble.  If you’re going to try to make a statement and you are proud of the cause you support, show your face, endure the conditions, know what you stand for, “be da man (or woman).”  For schools to allow such chaos has nothing to do with freedom of speech, not to mention, to allow a group of students (and non-students) to prevent and harass other students, from getting to class or traverse on a campus for an education, is no ok. For the mayhem to be allowed to continue and get to the point of this mess, is unacceptable.  For parents and students to hold colleges and universities liable may be the only language these schools understand.  To take a hit to their big endowments by lawsuits or donors pulling their support, may cause higher level education to reconsider how they handle ‘peaceful protest” and how they handle students’ safety.  Parents of future college students and students looking to further their education after collegiate graduation, may want to carefully consider the events on these campuses and if an institution allows such behavior, they may want to take them off the list of places to consider to continue their education.  These prestigious schools may be loosing their allure.  The college administration scandals a few years ago, along with the plagiarism scandal recently at Harvard with former president Claudine Gay and information colleges presidents have made known in the past few months when testifying before Congress, the playing field may be leveling.  Parents and students need to be mindful of what’s in store when dropping their child off at college.  They might get more than they bargained for, and a kool-aid they might wish they had passed on.   Wishing you a Great Day ❤️

Author, Mary Yana Burau ✏️