Alumni Essays: Rick Ayre '71
Rick Ayre graduated from Drury in 1971. He has had many jobs, none for more than five years. He was Executive Editor of PC Magazine from 1991 until 1996. He served as Vice President and Executive Editor of Amazon.com from 1996 until he retired in 2000. Currently, he lives in Seattle with his family and muses on our future and technology.
I am writing this on Martin Luther King’s Birthday. It somehow seems fitting. While at Drury I often found myself at the center of various protest movements. I served on the committees PRIDE, Moratorium and Albatross. I will freely admit that as a result we did not end racial discrimination, the war, or change the university much. I was reminded recently of how little we changed when, while visiting downtown San Francisco, I observed an anti-war protest. A man about my age was carrying a placard that read, “I can’t believe I am still protesting this same old....” (He then used a word like “stuff” but somewhat more colorful.)
In these days of Occupy _______, (you can fill in the blank with anything from Wall Street to, well, Drury) my heart is warmed, but I am also worried that we may be protesting the same stuff forever if nothing ever changes. .
But, of course, things have changed. How could I think otherwise? Obama is president, the weather has been unseasonably mild, and the Occupy movement is still going strong (at least according to the Adbuster RSS feeds). All of these changes owe no small debt to the Internet and technology. As a person who still gets excited by technology and its potential to change the world, I therefore remain optimistic.
Though, I have to admit, I am always an optimist—often depressed at certain outcomes, but hopeful in the long run. You have to be hopeful to be able to protest. You have to believe we will be better to each other and our planet. And, I do believe that we have the ability to be kind and honest and caring. Dr. King had a dream, and I still have hope.