When I came to Georgetown, I was one of the lucky people who got to come to campus early to do the pre-orientation program dedicated to service known as FOCI. While we were doing different forms of volunteer work, I distinctly remember some people wearing old FOCI T-shirts that had a quote by Camus on them, one that went something like: “A crowd gathered around. I asked myself why wasn’t somebody doing something . then I realized I was somebody.” I think that’s when I realized how lucky I was to be in a city that truly called out to me with its pain and asked me to do something about it.

It didn’t take very long to realize that a lot of students couldn’t be bothered with the world outside of campus. Those who know me have heard me complain about how most people on campus, from faculty to Jesuits to students, don’t really care about the world that suffers around them. I have had three years to resent a lot of my fellow Hoyas, which climaxed yesterday as intoxicated people harassed me and my friends on the night of the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance as I put flyers up for the blood drive. I thought of this Muslim girl coming up to me late at night on Friday, and how she said she’d be willing to volunteer to pick people up from the Red Cross for the rest of the night. I wondered what students who had harassed or made slurs against Muslims in the last few days were doing at that hour? Getting wasted? Did my fellow students care about the nation enough to act?

Why are we so apathetic? Once I’m gone, I will always be touched by the amazing people I’ve met here, but I’ll also regret that it felt like there were so few of them. It doesn’t have to be this way. Now that three of my four years are over, I wonder if the problem with Georgetown students hasn’t been apathy but just a lack of a galvanizing cause.

The one time I truly felt like our campus was motivated was during the sit-in in the president’s office my freshman year. I remember how touched I was to see how people really cared about the issue of sweatshops, and the amazing ability of the Georgetown community to mobilize in the name of something truly Good. Why isn’t it always like this here? I wonder if people needed something to focus them, and then I think, if four American planes used as terrorist weapons don’t do it, then nothing will.

The time has come to prove your loyalty, not just to America, but to humanity in general. I love this country for all it has given me. I love seeing all the flags and candles, but I have to be honest and say it’s not enough. It’s not enough to ask for vengeance, it’s not enough to pray that everything will turn out all right. For all we know, maybe it won’t. As President Bush seeks to war against terrorists around the world, perhaps the terrorists will go to war with the American public. If you don’t think your blood is needed, think about what will happen when the next attack blows up another building. Think about those called upon to protect our freedom, and how they may end up needing blood. After all, there will never be a war like the one we may end up fighting.

Giving blood is only the beginning of what can be done. While it is one thing to worry about being hurt by terrorists, it is another to be terrified of one’s fellow Americans. This will be a key issue in this war if terrorists continue to strike against us. I remember when I first heard about the attacks. I felt such sorrow for all the innocent Muslims who would be targeted. Then it hit me that as a South-Asian, I could be just as much a target for the prejudice that the terrorist attacks would inspire. I feel weird, like my skin is uncomfortable to wear. Everyday, I feel a little more aware of my brown color when I walk on and off campus. I wonder who is going to spit at me, who is going to curse at me. I can’t imagine what it must be like for those who cannot hide their faith except by denying it. If the day comes when all Arabs and South Asians in America are viewed with hate and suspicion, will Georgetown students even care?

I can only hope so, as my whole life may depend on it. And in America, where every night some innocent Muslim is being heckled, beat up or shot at, someone’s life already does.

Saajan Patel is a senior in the College.

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