American flags sway in the breeze, patriotic anthems ring through the night and forwards of prayers flood e-mail boxes. Usually, this show of unabashed nationalism would be met with snickers, but cynicism has been saved for another time: for political elections, University administrative policies and dining hall food.

But what makes the tragedies of the World Trade Center and Pentagon so immune to the normal barrage of criticism?

The bombings hit close to our heart, striking our financial and military centers and paralyzing the ruling class, the keys to American dominance, our future selves.

What we saw in the burning rubble was our potential futures as investment bankers or consultants flying up in cinders.

The tragedies seem like a fictional movie, viewed from afar in our comfortable college sphere. Ironically, we are being educated to become the world’s future leaders, yet I know little of what’s going on outside the realm of dead European writers and political philosophers.

I watched more CNN Sept. 11 than all of last school year. Without a working television in my suite, the only shows I made the trek to a friend’s room to watch were “Dawson’s Creek,” “Temptation Island” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” I didn’t even know Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake were going out until this summer.

My closest brush with substantial reporting was a local news commercial headlining “Killer Blinds!” — hardly a comprehensive news source. The Yale Daily News does not provide a much broader perspective with its nation and world section relegated to newspaper Siberia in the middle pages.

Of course, I can only speak for my own ignorance, but in general we are more detached from the world while at school. Even personal family events are perceived through a cushy buffer, making a grandparent’s death or cousin’s big birthday party seem distant and detached.

In our academic bubble, we go about our business: taking tests, going to meetings and completing our distribution requirements. But then, when November rolls around, we all put aside our academic and residential college differences, and come together for The Game to face our common enemy.

America is itself like a college that goes about its own business, pursuing individual interests until a great event unifies the nation against a common adversary.

Suddenly, our racial, political and economic disputes melt away, and we stand as one, uniformly waving our stars and stripes.

Unfortunately, our non-retaliation would be as ridiculous as us sitting together and holding hands with Harvard during The Game instead of routing them on the field. We should be complimenting Harvard on their dedication to learning instead of deriding their lack of social life by chanting “We have parties!” and “School on Monday!” But, alas, The Game will never become The Yearly Bonding Experience.

Unity over opposing interests seems to require a common enemy. So, what is it going to take for world peace? Militant extraterrestrials bent on conquering Earth?

Nicole Lim is a sophomore in Berkeley College.