Wednesday, March 11, 2020

#71 / Why Are They Having So Much Fun?

I had to laugh, recently, when a friend who teaches at the University of California, Santa Cruz (the locals call it UCSC) told me about a comment allegedly made by a city resident, someone who lives near the entrance to the UCSC campus.

A wildcat strike by graduate student Teaching Assistants has disrupted life on the campus quite significantly during the last month or so - and nearby neighbors have also been impacted. Among other things, traffic to and from UCSC has, periodically, been completely blocked, and those who live in the neighborhood have had traffic-related frustrations. Check these photos to get the flavor. If you are a local, of course, you may well have had experience with strike-related traffic disruptions yourself: 

Well, here is the remark, supposedly made by a neighbor who was impacted by the strike, and with this remark apparently made in a rather accustatory tone of voice:

Why are they having so much fun?

What made me laugh was my recollection of what Hannah Arendt said about revolution, in her wonderful book, On Revolution. When fundamental changes are being fought for, said Arendt, one common experience is a spontaneous erruption of "public happiness," an almost giddy realization that we are not alone, and isolated, but that we are, in fact, as I so frequently say, "together in this life." It is not by chance that our Declaration of Independence says that we hold it to be self-evident that all persons are created equal, and that we all have the unalienable right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." 

Why are they having so much fun? Because there is nothing more energizing and more empowering - more happiness producing - than working together to change the world. 

That the strikers and demonstrators are "having fun" is a pretty good sign that significant and even "revolutionary" changes may be coming to UCSC - and perhaps to the UC System as a whole, since strike support activities are spreading to other campuses.

Yes, I really laughed when I heard that comment! It's lots of fun to change the world. What a concept!!

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