Luke M.

First Place Winner

How much more sense the world made after reading it was what touched me the most. All the confusing decisions, the grand claims, the speeches with too many buzz words all suddenly fell into place. I could understand the US again after reading Shock Doctrine.

My high school librarian recommended Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine to me in tenth grade. Before reading it I considered myself pretty liberal. I was idealistic despite growing up post 9/11: my country was making the world a better place. I hated Bush, everyone did, but this didn't change the fact America was spreading freedom across the globe.

This book changed all that. Any last faith in the free market died. The world was no longer striving for a better place, but a nightmare of realism and exploitation. Among the pages, I found answers for the contradictions in US policy. Why Iraq? Oil and military contractors as part of privatization. Why Latin America? Testing grounds for capitalism.

I became more cynical, never again trusting the claims of liberation or building democracy. There is always a hidden motive: to do what is best for America, regardless of the cost. I began to bring up the problems that the US had created in my classes, looking for answers.

I never found any. Why should the US be first? There is no reason beyond that we have the most guns. This is what I decided must change. To do nothing would only allow the façade to remain and this was something I could not do.

Focusing my readings on economics, I found alternatives to the present ways. Forced capitalism wasn't always the norm; collaboration could mean more than hidden exploitation. I realized many people agreed with me, making the Shock Doctrine a prominent lunch discussion.

Klein offered some glimmers of hope: individuals taking a stand, helping those around them. Small changes, but they add up. This became my goal. The world had to change. I had always enjoyed politics, but I now had a focus.

Change from within seemed the only way. To critically question what our country ought to fight for and what it ends fighting for will us to see the faults. An informed public can force these changes, but someone needs to show them the way. That is what I hope I can do.