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Come Together by Lulu L. '09

What do you believe in?

Part One: Getting people together.

Abstract. In our investigation of the hypothesis “wanting something doesn’t make it real”, we find one physically significant counter-example to this premise.

Let’s start from the beginning. There exists a popular webcomic called xkcd. Its creator: Randall Munroe. Generally the comic is true to its tagline. It’s nerdy, it’s cute, it’ll make you cringe, it’ll break your heart. Sometimes it’s even entirely relatable. Due to the overwhelming popularity of the webcomic here at MIT, he was extended an invitation to speak on campus, which he accepted. The event filled up 10-250, our second (third?) largest lecture hall, and there was a line at the door. I hope you get the idea. He’s kind of a big deal around here.

Then one day there was this:


I had a dream that I met a girl in a dying world.

In it was embedded a set of coordinates and a date. The coordinates, it turns out, pointed to a park here in Cambridge and the time was September 23rd, 2007 at 2:38pm. It became a phenomenon. Fans all around the world speculated about the time and place. People booked plane tickets. Can wanting something badly enough really make it real?

This was two weeks ago. I went, along with a great many people I know. Media covering the event reported that there were “nearly a thousand” people who flocked to the park, who came from as far away as Russia. Though it was sufficiently clear that the event was about meeting like-minded people, Randall made a guest appearance, carrying whiteboards of the comic with the last frame missing. The instruction was to write a new ending.

Overall, a pretty cool idea.

Filling in the huge last frame

Make sure you back up your assertions with reliable sources.

Me on the jungle gym

Randall amidst throngs of adoring fans

Part Two: Taking a Stand.

Burma (officially Myanmar) is a country of 50 million people. Crowning almost two decades of political dissatisfaction and unrest under the crippling rule of the military junta, the nation is yet again reeling from its newest wave of violence. This time, 20,000 monks marched in peaceful protest and once again, the government has launched a violent suppression. Read more about the story here.

In light of the recent tragedies, Amnesty International (MIT Chapter) held a candlelight vigil to spread awareness and send prayers for peace in Burma. The event was held on October 3rd.

I posted these two seemingly contrasting events together because they’re not all that different. There are a lot of people out there who believe in the same things you do and sometimes it takes a little push to find them. There’s power in numbers, and there’s a lot of good left to be done in this world.

The remainder of this entry will be pictures from the vigil. If this is the kind of thing that matters to you, you should consider attending some of these events.

Thanks for reading

-Lulu

24 responses to “Come Together”

  1. Wow, awesome post. I love the pictures, the black and white really makes them stand out [going to the XKCD meeting must have been awesome]. I love to see all the support for Burma, it’s an amazing cause. I’ve been trying to get people around my school more involved in the situation, very few people here have even heard about it though. Keep up the great blogging.

  2. Paul says:

    Sadly, it’s much easier to make a stand for xkcd than it is for Burma…

  3. Isshak says:

    Yeah I heard about that on the news. Can you believe the army is trying to “buy” some monks by giving them free food ? Some refused of course, and in that country it’s equivalent to excommunication I think. All I can say is, go monks, stand for your principles ! THEY really know what “at all costs” mean.

  4. Wow, what a profound post. I enjoy the interlinking between the two articles.

  5. Hunter '11 says:

    I WAS THERE! Oh goodness, it was so much fun =) I just love when a bunch of fans get together – for anything! For some reason, the xkcd event seemed like a Harry Potter midnight release and such. Everyone gets along and seems to be friends.

  6. lulu says:

    tru but it’s not a contest. you can be excited about the little things and passionate about the big things

  7. Angela says:

    Interesting juxtaposition.
    Being excited about little things is okay – it makes life so much more fulfilling.

  8. Anonymous says:

    part 1 is extremely geeky

  9. A Cartoon says:

    People always say they grew out of the habit of reading comics when they became adults. But why can’t meaningful messages be expressed in an unexpected medium?

  10. hey you missed the best pic at XKCD- of all of us Randomite’s boffing the raptor!
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/1534596178/
    heeheehee

  11. lulu says:

    no reason, I think raspberry

  12. Isshak says:

    @Lulu
    Er, excuse me to say this, but sacrificing your life for what you believe in, going to prison, or even dying, with hundreds of other people like you, and being persecuted by the government, CAN NOT be compared to students getting together for a comic meet up. You don’t “stand up for what you believe in”, you just get together to have some fun.
    But, even though I totally disagree with you on this one (people dying and going to prison vs students having fun), I still love your blog ! Keep posting !

  13. lulu says:

    I’d like to state for the record that no one died during our vigil wednesday night.

  14. lulu says:

    thanks angela, you put it very very well smile

  15. Isshak says:

    Er, I actually thought she was comparing the situation in Burma to the xkcd event, obviously I misread. But the situation there is really tough, and it’s my opinion that putting it in an article along something fun isn’t really the way to go. But I was seing it from the point of view of a journalist ^^’ so don’t pay attention !

  16. Angela says:

    @Isshak:
    Lulu made it pretty clear that Part One was “Getting people together” and Part Two was “Taking a Stand;” the comparison she made was not that both situations involved “[standing] up for what you believe in,” but that “There are a lot of people out there who believe in the same things you do and sometimes it takes a little push to find them.”
    Both the xkcd event and the Amnesty Internation vigil offered meeting points for people with common beliefs to come together. The first picture posted from the xkcd event shows the line, “It turns out that wanting something occasionally does make it real, after all.” Maybe, then, if enough people want to change the situation in Burma, that desire will become reality, and the reality will change.
    Maybe I’m reading too much into it.
    I’d like to think not.

  17. Hawkins says:

    Amazing post, Lulu. I always love the pictures you take… Sometimes wanting something does make it real! Yay for people coming together and for people taking a stand!

    I’d also like to say that at a place like MIT, having an event to make people pause and think about a problem a little more intently or from a different perspective is sometimes just what’s needed to solve it. Awareness is very important.

  18. Isshak says:

    Exactly ! Awareness is very important, I can tell you that, having work in safe sex awareness to fight HIV/AIDS. Sometimes people just don’t know about it, and telling them about it usually weakens the problem.

  19. SomeGuy says:

    Sadly wanting MIT doesnt make it real either. In a personal sense. But this really did break my heart, both articles actually, i didnt find either one to be neccessarily, “Fun”
    Cartoons can be very effective methods of portraying serious ideas. As shown in this article.
    Thanks so much for posing this, really helps to develop our outlook on the world. I owe you one.

  20. silverSurfer says:

    Lulu i love this post it is awesome! However, in the same breath i find it disconcerting. Coalition building is certainly an art and some of the greatest figures in history have done this extremely well. And your post speaks to this concern of isolation that certainly attends (quite specifically) the Ameican landscape. But my problem comes with the type of distractions that pervade our rich, over indulgent culture, and the problems that litter the global landscape going seemingly unnoticed by the majority of the world.

    -THE TRUTH- it’s worth fighting for wink

  21. lulu says:

    thanks for your comments above, I completely agree that it may be frustrating at times to be observer to our level of indifference but at the same time vanity as a culture. It is important, though, not to cast blame on any of its participants, considering, that with the slightest bit of provocation, many would not hesitate a second to devote themselves or otherwise contribute to a worthy cause.

  22. silverSurfer says:

    I totally agree with that statement as I find myself located in the very thing i despise, so forgive me, I mean to cast no blame, but, as you say, I want to incite(myself included) care , empathy, and ultimately, action. So, awesome post, thank you for challenging our ambivalence and pleading for a community of activity.(because you gals and guys have the ability to change the world!!!!!)

    peace to all and to all a good nite!!! grin Surfer

  23. qbr says:

    in italy too at our university in naples we made a sit in for ask democracy in burma.
    it’s just a drop…