Gratitude for Youth Protest on Campuses in a Time of Moral Crisis

Having come of age in the time of protests against the Viet Nam war and ossified education that were happening in Europe and North America in the 1960s, it is a sign of hope to see so many students today protesting the horrors of the war in Gaza. 

As police remove US. student encampments and protests spread on campuses worldwide, faculty defend the University of Chicago encampment after student/administration talks were suspended. CBS Chicago

Being a student in Paris and Munster, Germany in those years, I  participated in non-violent marching and protests in both cities and witnessed the take-down of de Gaulle’s government in 1968 due in large part to protests by the youth. 

The youth often have a clearer insight about public morals than do those adults profiting from the status quo.

It is good to see moral outrage and a certain moral clarity among the younger generation protesting today.  The issue is much more than simply “the right to protest,” as President Biden talked about recently.

The issue is about our government’s unabated financing of genocide in Gaza, as well as the failure of academia to teach and stand up for values that transcend self-interests of their institutions.  Presidents of colleges, coached by legal teams, appeared before Congress and embarrassed themselves time and again because their answers to congressional attacks played safe and lacked any moral urgency.

Senator Bernie Sanders (D.,VT) delivers an impassioned plea to Congress in support of the student protestors and a halt to support for the Israeli bombardment.

The issue at hand is about justice, which is the only basis for a real peace. 

To call all objections to Netanyahu and his decision-making “antisemitism” is absurd and a distraction.  Not when his decisions have already killed over 34,000 human beings including 14,000 children and smashed a city to smithereens. 

Many Jews and many rabbis I know are vehemently opposed to the genocide going on in Gaza.  To be opposed to the state of Israel’s decision-making is not antisemitism. It is what democracy is all about.  It is why hundreds of thousands of Israelis previous to Oct 7 marched in objecting to Netanyahu’s effort to destroy their Supreme Court to avoid going to prison.

Channel 4 News reporters trace the ongoing forcible incursion of Israeli settlers taking Palestinian farms on the West Bank.

Sadly, to allow the current slaughter to continue will feed more antisemitism and rage in the Middle East for generations to come.  Where will the exiled Palestinians live when and if the war ceases?  Who and how to rebuild the flattened cities?  And decimated lives? 

October 7 was a horrendous day, but if Netanyahu had done his job and been better prepared, it would not have succeeded. The loss of 1250 Jewish lives is not cleansed by the loss of 34,000 Palestinian lives.

See Matthew Fox, “Honoring the Child Within—Youth and the Cosmic Christ,” in Fox, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance, pp. 180-199.

And Fox, “The Paris Years: A Culture in Revolution—1967-1970,” in Fox, Confessions: The Making of a Post-denominational Priest, pp. 70-98.

And Fox, The A.W.E. Project: Reinventing Education, Reinventing the Human.

Banner Image: Student encampment and protest for Gaza and Palestine at George Washington University on April 26, 2024. Photo by Teaching for Change on Flickr.

Queries for Contemplation

Do you agree that the student protests are a sign of hope and youth speaking truth to institutional academic power and political powers that are often oblivious to ethics and morality and justice?

Recommended Reading

The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance

In what may be considered the most comprehensive outline of the Christian paradigm shift of our Age, Matthew Fox eloquently foreshadows the manner in which the spirit of Christ resurrects in terms of the return to an earth-based mysticism, the expression of creativity, mystical sexuality, the respect due the young, the rebirth of effective forms of worship—all of these mirroring the ongoing blessings of Mother Earth and the recovery of Eros, the feminine aspect of the Divine.
“The eighth wonder of the world…convincing proof that our Western religious tradition does indeed have the depth of imagination to reinvent its faith.” — Brian Swimme, author of The Universe Story and Journey of the Universe.

Confessions: The Making of a Post-Denominational Priest (Revised/Updated Edition)

Matthew Fox’s stirring autobiography, Confessions, reveals his personal, intellectual, and spiritual journey from altar boy, to Dominican priest, to his eventual break with the Vatican. Five new chapters in this revised and updated edition bring added perspective in light of the author’s continued journey, and his reflections on the current changes taking place in church, society and the environment.
“The unfolding story of this irrepressible spiritual revolutionary enlivens the mind and emboldens the heart — must reading for anyone interested in courage, creativity, and the future of religion.”
—Joanna Macy, author of World as Lover, World as Self

The A.W.E. Project: Reinventing Education, Reinventing the Human

The A.W.E. Project reminds us that awe is the appropriate response to the unfathomable wonder that is creation… A.W.E. is also the acronym for Fox’s proposed style of learning – an approach to balance the three R’s. This approach to learning, eldering, and mentoring is intelligent enough to honor the teachings of the Ancestors, to nurture Wisdom in addition to imparting knowledge, and to Educate through Fox’s 10 C’s. The 10 C’s are the core of the A.W.E. philosophy and process of education, and include: compassion, contemplation, and creativity. The A.W.E. Project does for the vast subject of “learning” what Fox’s Reinvention of Work did for vocation and Original Blessing did for theology. Included in the book is a dvd of the 10 C’s put to 10 video raps created and performed by Professor Pitt.
An awe-based vision of educational renewal.Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice.

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11 thoughts on “Gratitude for Youth Protest on Campuses in a Time of Moral Crisis”

  1. Avatar

    Student protests are fine and healthy. What they quickly can turn into though is a confrontational ‘us versus them’. This might be a result of misguided and loosely held positioning of the student body or through the presence of outside, ‘non-student’ agitators or both.

    Who would not want ‘all innocents’ of both sides in any war-like confrontation to be protected from the combatants? And to destroy homes, hospitals and other important infrastructure is almost as in-humane as it gets. There is a 3rd view to be held here and it is not one of ‘1 versus 2’, use versus them.

    And ‘academia’ itself needs modern day ‘immunity’ from political correctness and get back its own former freedoms to hold a variety of diverse views. Reality now shows that rich alumni and donors are calling the shots. — BB.

  2. Avatar

    YES!!! Thank you Matthew and The Daily Meditation Team for today’s exceptional and truthful summary and moral clarification of the main reasons students and people around the world, not just in the US, are morally outraged at the ongoing genocide of the Palestinian people in Gaza caused by Netanyahu’s extreme right wing conservative Israeli government and the Western governments, including the US, militarily supporting them and thereby complicit in this daily suffering and deaths of the Palestine people and their society/country!!!

    The enclosed video of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ impassioned speech in congress especially expresses and clarifies the moral outrage felt by many Americans, and humanitarians around the world, about how extremist and ignorant Western governmental leaders and policies are contributing to the daily genocidal suffering of our sisters and brothers in Gaza.

  3. Avatar

    Thank you Matthew and thank you Damian for your support of our youth. I admit that because of other things I’m engaged in right now, I have not much followed the responses of college administrators and politicians to the students’ impassioned calls for an end to genocide in Gaza. Nonetheless, a part of me has been standing up and cheering for them–first, because I believe their pleas are just, second because I am delighted to see young people becoming politically involved. (I want to say “finally.”) Oh yes, I agree that the student protests are a sign of hope and youth speaking truth to institutional academic power and political powers that are often oblivious to ethics and morality and justice. I don’t know what Biden should do. I believe he has been, from the beginning trying to get Netanyahu to stop the violence. I see that it hasn’t been enough. I also realize that I don’t know everything he knows. As for me, I would like us to neither send a penny more nor a bullet more to his government; yet I realize I know so little. I applaud these students. Thank you for pointing out reasons why the colleges and politicians are acting the way they are.

  4. Avatar
    Martina Nicholson

    We have to pay attention to the fact that the International Court of Justice has called this a genocide. We have to admit that we have 5 US laws which prevent us from participating in, or giving or selling weapons to a country committing mass extermination of people. Gaza is very small, and has had more bombs dropped on it in these months than the bombing of Dresden in WW2, and it is the greatest humanitarian crisis in our current world. Mass starvation is happening, as a tool of war. There is no drinking water. There is no electricity. Doctors and nurses have been killed by sniper fire, and hospitals destroyed. There is no shelter, no safety. We have to keep remembering that the Geneva Conventions and international human rights matter, and that we “break faith” literally, when we do not uphold them. We have to push, to remind our government that the right answer is “Bread not Bombs” and to impose a limit to violence and bullying power. We must continue to confront people who believe in retributive justice. “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” I read that Golda Meir said that we can forgive them for killing us, but we can never forgive them for forcing us to kill their children.” The Jewish people have deep understanding of ethics, and of being oppressed. They must not be allowed to become the oppressors. We have to help them find “the better angels of their nature.”

  5. Avatar
    Michael Dawkins

    It is a ray of hope to see the student protests all over the world. It makes me feel things can change, after all youth are the future and to see college students speaking out against the evils of the Netanyahu government seems like a blessing. This genocide must stop. PRAY

  6. Avatar

    Thank you. One thing that I feel is that we do a disservice to the reality of the situation when the media only talks about the war beginning on October 7. The occupation and the siege has been an ongoing war on the Palestinians. Israel is a settler colonial state taking land and destroying home whenever it suits them.

  7. Avatar

    I am proud of the young people and only hope that the media coverage will be even-handed. There are always “agent provocateurs” . I believe that so many educational institutions have failed in teaching and encouraging open discussions and tolerance of all views. It is just as wrong to allow the disruption of a speech from a conservative as it is to allow disruption of a speech by a liberal. In a way, we are reaping what we have sown by in some instances allowing repression of unpopular views. There is no right “side” in this horror going on in the middle east, only the human rights that are being violated every day—Hamas indeed has hidden behind innocent people, the most vulnerable in hospitals–some Israeli settlers indeed have terrorized their Palestinian neighbors who are herders and small farmers. Violence begets violence. I always plead for us all to put as much pressure as possible on our government “leaders”. A campaign also to divest from gun manufacturers would be most effective, if enough people joined and withdrew financial support–this is always the bottom line.

  8. Avatar
    Susan alice mufson

    As a Jew, as someone who participated in the anti-Vietnam war protests on my campus and in D.C. in the 60’s, as someone who is deeply opposed to the Netanyahu government and its actions in Gaza, as someone who fervently believes in Palestinian rights and equality as well as Israel’s right to exist, I must bear witness to the fact that there is genuine antisemitism among some (by all means not all or most) of the protesters, including the harassment of and threats against Jewish students just for being Jewish and vocal support for Hamas and its actions on 10/7 and its stated genocidal goals.

  9. Cynthia Greb

    Matthew, I so appreciate that you are calling out those who say these protests are antisemetic. I agree that disagreeing with Netanyahu’s policies and decisions does not equate with antisemetism. I would LOVE to see you being interviewed on a major news station about this because I think the media are continually misframing the protests. It is NOT about being against Jews; it is about being against the killing of children, the killing of aid workers, the bombing of hospitals and universities and places of worship, and about intentional starvation. It’s about being against genocide! We need to reframe the whole discussion.

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