I have recently become aware of the frightening reality of how few students at UCSB know or even care about our nation’s crisis with Iraq. With an uncertain future hanging in the balance, very few seem to show concern over anything but midterm exams and Halloween costumes. Our collective fates and the fates of tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians are being decided upon at this very moment by the Bush administration, who now have complete congressional authority to use military force whenever they deem it necessary. Am I the only one who finds this information disconcerting – hell, downright frightening? I think not; however, I have yet to hear the voices of dissent over the overwhelming tides of indifference.

For those of you who still believe in a war with Iraq, I ask you to open your minds and realize the devastatingly far-reaching implications of such action. A war with Iraq is not only an incredibly dangerous endeavor that will certainly cost precious human life, but also one that is frowned upon by every major nation in the world. Without a U.N. war resolution, the United States will not only be embarking on an alienating and unjustified war, it will also be breaking international law. It is illegal for one nation to use military force against another in an act of unprovoked aggression. As citizens of a nation that claims to be peaceful, how can we sit back and watch our sisters, brothers and friends sent off to fight an unjustified and immoral war?

The Bush administration claims that a war with Iraq and the subsequent removal of Saddam Hussein from power will prevent the spread of terrorism. Prevent the spread of terrorism? Since when does the U.S. make war because our president has a hunch about the possibility of future conflicts? An unprovoked war will not only cost the lives of thousands of U.S. and Iraqi citizens, but it will perpetuate the terrorism they claim will be abolished by such aggression. I’ll give you a hypothetical situation to more clearly illustrate this point. There is an Iraqi farmer who provides for his family, practices and embodies the compassionate teachings of the Quran, and wishes only for happiness and comfort in his life. Without warning, a strategic missile launched by the U.S. misses its intended target and annihilates this man’s house, farm and family. What is there to feel but desperation and hatred towards those who destroyed his livelihood?

We must become a unified voice in opposition to the tyranny and inhumanity of this war to come. If we truly believe in a peaceful existence, we, the most powerful nation in the world, must be the first to set an example for peace. Our generation has a genuine opportunity and a grave responsibility to powerfully assert our unalienable right to live in a peaceful society. Our voices must be heard clearly, for as history has taught, words have the power to change. Our votes must be cast to reflect the ideals that our nation has endeavored to live by since its birth. We have the chance, right now, to change the course of our country’s future for the better. Let’s take this chance and run with it.

Here are some good sources where you can find accurate and mostly unbiased reports of national and world news. Also listed are a few ways that you can become active in the campaign for peace: ; ; .

You can write letters to your representatives or participate peacefully in anti-war protests. Also, vote on Tuesday for candidates who will not bow down under the pressure of political gain. We will all benefit from a House and Senate whose interests lie in the betterment of humanity. Most importantly, share your information and beliefs with your friends, teachers and peers. Awareness is key.

James Wygant is a junior art history major.