Salient: Victoria University Students' Newspaper. Vol. 24, No. 8. 1961.
Here, and Where?
Here, and Where?
Another Capping has passed and a new group of graduates move forward to make their impression on the world they find about them. For some it will be the first encounter with the struggles of life, as many use the university as a warm, safe cocoon to protect and nature for those years following school until society expects them to make some contribution to the larger group. Many others come to the university after having had some worldly experiences or on a part-time basis and know something of what is about them.
The ruthless campaign of indifference conducted against the graduates by their fellow students is a reflection of the general attitude that few serious events, and none that demand self-sacrifice, are worthy of support. There is still a chance that our generation will turn out to be something more than a band of none too anonymous alcoholics.
It is vital that the generation leaving universities and training colleges during this decade should be aware of their chance to mould the pattern of life in this country in such a way that if the dreams of the idealists of the past cannot be fulfilled they can at least be met half way.
The generation which grew up in the 'twenties and 'thirties fought the last war and returned to govern and has laid a heavy hand on our society. Their spirits crippled by the bleak poverty of the Depression and the social and political upheavals which marked the period, these men returned from the fight recognising only one ideal—Security.
So we live under the all embracing umbrella of the Welfare State with just enough latitude to encourage every commercial Caesar to spend his life pushing for a little more of the fruits of materialism than the next man. But for all their present petty vices and gray virtues this generation had, in its younger days, two bright attributes which we have never had—imagination and enthusiasm. They also looked forward to the future—a better future.
Who thinks of New Zealand's future today? There is no "New Zealand Dream." The basis of our society is against it. We are far too busy consolidating the precarious gains of today to worry about tomorrow. Neither of our political parties has any long-term plans for us, rut-ridden bunglers that they are. There is no party standing for radical progress and there is no call for it. There is no active Left-wing intelligentsia which is a clear symptom of creative political thought. No searching questions are being asked and if they were few would attempt to answer them. Despite its obvious anomalies our democratic system commands universal support. Suggestions for controlled reform are rare.
The real tragedy and the one which should be felt by our generation is that there is no contemporary conception of a better life. To many Communism proved a false God and Socialism only a mediocre success. People were disillusioned. Some still look for answers. But there are no answers—only counter theories. So our generation is too sophisticated to waste time making the same mistakes. But we should try and answer the questions and prove ourselves more than the tired offspring of a spent force.