Volume 92, Issue 34

Wednesday, November 4, 1998

millions of bad feelings


Everybody is a unique individual

Re: Students can't unite for a single cause, Oct. 15

To the Editor:
If every person were the same, how easy life would be!

If every person were the same, then every student could join a protest without wasting energy negotiating among student groups. And then if there were someone who dared to stand in the way, well, that person would have trouble getting to work in the morning. Size would matter. There would be strength in numbers. Wouldn't it be easy to establish justice in Ontario if every person were the same?

But somehow you just know I'm being sarcastic. Is there anyone out there who really wants us all to be exactly the same? Long rows of identical clones reaching out with identical spoons to eat from identical bowls of bland, low-fat, protein-enriched gray gruel? I doubt it.

Somehow what we want is not that every person should be exactly the same. Rather, we seem to recognize that we are "the same, only different." It's not a contradiction; we are the same in some ways, different in others. Sort of like snowflakes – every one is an individual, yet they're all made of ice crystals. You say to-may-to, I say to-mah-to, but nevertheless we yearn to establish justice in Ontario.

Maybe you're thinking that, in matters of vegetable pronunciation, it's okay to be an individual, but justice demands a communal approach. I end up at the other extreme. I believe that just about the only thing we really have in common is that we all have our own ideas – especially about justice.

What's wrong with "every person would be the same" is that there is no "I" in it. So, as a casual observer of the student scene at Western and at Fanshawe for a long while, I am actually encouraged by the developments reported in the Oct. 15 Gazette. So there are lots of student associations and there are "irreconcilable differences in ideologies" – this should be a surprise? After years of pleas for unity, have we finally realized that there is no unity? Maybe in the future, The Gazette will report that each of these student groups actually consists of nothing but individual human beings and even the individuals who do belong to any one group don't all really agree with each other in the first place. Gadzooks!

Real progress will come when we try to work out a new concept of justice in Ontario that acknowledges in a fundamental way that there is no such thing as "collective action" and not even any such thing as "common good." Life may not be easy, but life is wonderful precisely because each of us has their own individual ideas, desires, wants, motives, aversions and goals.

The responsibility that goes with this – and, yes, it's the same responsibility for each of us – is to treat every other person only as individual and never as part of a united anything.

Peter Jedicke
B. SC. '76

To Contact The Opinions Department: gazette.opinions@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998