When I started graduate school at UNC Chapel Hill in 1969, the African-American cafeteria workers were on strike for better wages and working conditions from the University. Students held many demonstrations in support of the workers. I’ll always remember one student’s closing to a speech at one of our rallies. She had worked herself and the crowd up over the lies the University was telling about its treatment of the workers. Her stirring closing-line was “There’s just too much cognitive dissonance going on here.” She was a Ph.D. candidate in sociology.
Every time I drive the 13 miles from my apartment in Princeton to meet with a student in inner city Trenton, I experience a dissonance deeper than cognitive. For mere cognitive dissonance, I can read the Facebook posts of Princeton progressives. Such as the following posted from a local restaurant/bar where the tab for a simple meal can easily exceed $60.
Met up for sangria with non-grassroots/activist friends (I do have some!), and who should should be sitting next to us but a group of grassroots/activist strangers– bearing buttons!
To me “grassroots” means the people who bring their families into the McDonalds on Chambers Street in Trenton to enjoy a meal together in the only clean, bright spot for miles. Not people who think nothing of a $100 bar tab. We may be activists in the right causes, but that doesn’t make us “grassroots.”