FROM READERS: Young Socialists Club strives for bipartisan collaboration

Saturday, November 16, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CST; updated 10:43 p.m. CST, Monday, November 18, 2013

Greyson Holliday is co-president of the Young Socialists Club at Rock Bridge High School.

It's an outrage. An absolute abomination. The fact that people's living conditions in the best country on Earth can vary between pampered luxury and hopeless poverty disgusted me. Something had to be done. Those were my thoughts after returning from a mission trip with my church to the heart of Appalachia, arguably the poorest place in the country. Jobs were scarce, misery and depression were high, and the people there were surviving with less resources and amenities than I could ever imagine.

It was this experience that spurred me to, along with some friends, start the Young Socialists Club at Rock Bridge High School. We wanted to do something meaningful in the wake of our experiences in Appalachia, and to us, starting a socialists club could raise awareness to programs that are dedicated to helping the less fortunate. In my opinion, socialism is a legitimate option to some of the problems our country was facing, and an option that was too often ignored, feared or misunderstood. Socialism, simply is the government stepping into private enterprise and regulating or setting boundaries they cannot cross.

Sound oppressive? Well the next time you drive on a public road, eat a hamburger without fear of contamination, or are protected by our nationalized military, you can see socialism at work, right here in America. The United States is not a capitalist society, rather we are a mixed market economy. We allow the businesses to operate as they wish, privately, while putting in government restrictions to protect the people. Thus, the question is not whether we have socialism or capitalism, it's how much of each do we want. That is a question the American people have to answer.

Sadly, discussions with differing points of view seem to become increasingly heated, partisan and less productive as the gridlock in Washington grows fiercer by the day. The Young Socialists Club chooses to operate differently. We believe that no one side of an issue has the whole answer, and that unity will and should always win the day. We believe that socialism and capitalism in their purest form are equally oppressive and harmful to a society. Our goals, then, are to educate people about what socialism really is and to foster a sense of political cooperation that we believe is too often absent from our society's sphere of public discourse.

One effort to do that is an event we have hosted the last three years called Clean Up Rock Bridge. In addition to cleaning up trash around our school, we defiantly prove to the world that differing political ideologies can work in tandem to accomplish a common good. You see, we don’t clean up Rock Bridge ourselves. The Young Republicans, Young Democrats, Young Philosophers, and Political Issues clubs assisted us. And I can truly say that I am proud of what we have done. I believe that this sense of friendliness and unity that we have achieved is due to our willingness to look for common ground.

Our strong belief that differing opinions are a good thing and provide an opportunity for us to get a fuller understanding of the issue at hand is what pushes us to converge rather than separate. And lastly, the simple truth is that rifts among peers because of opposing views provide nothing more than dissension while accepting of differences can encourage production. While the Young Socialists Club may not be able to change a nation, state, or even a town, we hold strong that collaboration is what's needed for success and meaningful change. And while compromise has been seen as a sign of weakness in recent years, I truly affirm that an open attitude is the key for progress.

This story is a part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising editor is Joy Mayer.

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John Schultz November 16, 2013 | 2:05 p.m.

I wonder if they are teaching modern history at Rock Bridge, because I think socialist societies have killed a heck of a lot more people than capitalist ones.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith November 17, 2013 | 7:56 a.m.

@ John:

I could just as easily have written this when I was in high school, but at some point in our lives we need to come to grips with reality (although some folks never do).

As you are aware, I delight in mentioning "National SOCIALISM" and the "Union of Soviet SOCIALIST Republics" as two of the 20th Century's prize societal "wrecking balls."

To ignore history is to (eventually) be forced to re-live it. What a wonderful prospect THAT is! (Please pass me that cannister of Zyklon B.)

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith November 18, 2013 | 5:44 a.m.

@ John Schultz:

I neglected to mention that several summers ago my oldest granddaughter participated in a Protestant church sponsored summer program held in Fleming-Neon, Kentucky to repair housing. She enjoyed her stint at carpentry, and learned among other things that not all financially disadvantaged persons in the United States are black or hispanic.

It appears that Greyson Holliday may have participated in the same or a similar summer program.

During another summer the same granddaughter worked at razing flood-damaged houses in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In addition to physical requirements that operation required wearing OSHA approved respirators (just as her grandfather once needed to do).

My granddaughters were REQUIRED to work on such projects as a CONDITION OF HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION! A Student could have a 4.0 GPA and still not receive a diploma if a mandatory minimum of public service hours wasn't met.

Well you can easily guess this was a private high school. Such a requirement would never fly in a public high school: the public school board having that requirement would be quickly sued in federal court.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams November 18, 2013 | 10:58 a.m.

Cooperation with cleaning up around the high school is a fine thing, but note that no one is "out" anything except a bit of time and muscle power. There's no "skin" in the game.

Try this: I recommend that you require all students to put 20 bucks/week in a school kitty, then distribute that money towards the tutoring of all students making D's and F's. Let's see what problems arise....

It is true that parts of our society are socialized, and this is a good thing. The tension is in "how much?" and, in my long life, I've never found a socialist (or liberal, for that matter) able to articulate when enough is enough. I still maintain that the main goal of socialists and liberals (they can be one in the same) is NOT equal is equal outcomes.

Socialists fail to understand this thing called "motivation" and how it can be destroyed by too much "taking". Making all outcomes leads to a "Why innovate?" attitude.

The author of this story may start feeling a bit different once he gets some skin in the game, and then realizes how many people in this world want what he has....but do not want to do what he did to get it.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith November 18, 2013 | 1:28 p.m.

""Jeder nach seinen Faehigkeiten*, jeden nach seinen Beduerfnissen*!" - Karl Marx (c. 1875)

["From each according to his ability, to each according to his need!"]

While Marx popularized this slogan, its origin probably rests with Frenchman Louis Blanc. (c. 1839)

It has also been identified with the French utopian Morelly, who said, among other fascinating things, that, "Nothing in society will belong to anyone, either as a personal possession or as capital goods, except the things for which a person has immediate use, for either his needs, his pleasures, or his daily work. Every citizen will be a public man, sustained by, supported by, and occupied at the public expense."

How this utopian state of affairs was to be reached remains a mystery. Socialists don't seem particularly concerned with details. LOL!

*- I expect to be accused of incorrectly spelling certain German words. German relies heavily on umlauted vowels (two small dots above certain vowels), as a key to pronunciation of the word. In absence of the ability to attach an umlaut (when using an English computer keyboard) it is permissible to follow what would be the umlauted vowel with the letter "e." It's possible that Mark Foecking's family name was originally spelled "Focking," with an umlaut over the "o."

(Report Comment)

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