Thinking. Thinking about things that really matter. It seems as if a lack of good ole’ fashioned I-give-a-shit thought is too much for people today. People are lazy, selfish and ignorant.
Yes, I said it – ignorant. Ignorance - a lack of knowledge. I don’t care that you go to college. I don’t care that you have a dozen degrees. I really don’t care that your job is just so prestigious and your income is six figures. If you don’t pay attention to the events that surround you and take the time to think about them, then you are ignorant.
But it’s more fun to think about other things. The party, the date, the dirt on someone else – anything that keeps us focused on someone else or on our own pleasure.
Of course that’s one philosophy on life – all human activity is inspired by either the pursuit of pleasure or the avoidance of pain. But as people, and especially as Americans, we have become so self-involved and pleasure-oriented that we are apathetic. We really just don’t care – unless it affects us.
O.J. gets himself in trouble again? Paris went to jail? Marion Jones took steroids? Sarah Jessica Parker voted “unsexiest?” Stop the presses! Everyone wants to know about it – don’t they?
But what of the war in Iraq? The problems in the mortgage system? The S-CHIP debate? The strengths and weaknesses of the various presidential candidates? When is the last time you found yourself with your friends talking about these things?
Try this: walk up to a dozen different people, at random, and ask them about the latest scandal. It doesn’t matter the name or the issue – I bet you get reactions. Easily.
Then ask them about their opinions about President Bush’s strengths or weaknesses as a leader. What do they think of Blackwater? Of Nancy Pelosi? I fear it would be a classic scene off Street Smarts – Nancy Pelosi was good in such and such movie and Blackwater is the slang term for oil.
Knowledge and thought is the cornerstone of our way of life. Without it, our freedom dies.
All around you events happen. You might deceive yourself, like one person I heard who said she is all for the death penalty. When it was pointed out that wrongful convictions permeate death row, she said, “Oh well, that’s not my problem.”
That comment shows the problem – as long as we continue to stick our heads in the sand and only learn about, think of and care for our own interests, then we cannot work on strengthening our own society – and in turn, the world.
Six degrees of separation is the term for how people are connected. Well, events connect as well. As ripples in the water of a very large ocean, they spread out and reach us all.
The war in Iraq leads to higher gas prices, which causes the price of milk to go up. When milk goes up, some children in the poorest fringes will go without. The lack of this nutrition will then cause health problems, which will in turn cause another crisis – perhaps taxes will go up to cover their health needs.
It may take several years to synthesize the results of one action – but remember the rule: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. So, no matter how apparent it is that “it’s not my problem,” in the end, it will be. For any issue.
Can we pay attention to every detail of the world around us, and spend our energy on each? Of course not. But we can be open.
When the news is on, watch. When the professor gets on a tangent, listen. When the class topic is something that bores you, try to pay attention. A college education provides you with various topics and points of view. I started college with very little real knowledge of what was going on in the world around me; my own little corner of people, places and things was all I really knew.
Oh, I held opinions. Sadly, most of them were based on ignorance. Intelligent and capable, I held on to emotional logic, what I was raised to believe and one-sided perspectives.
But in college, you have the chance to learn, grow and see things in new ways. You have access to a world of thoughts, opinions and perspectives. You have these editorials, mere opinions only, but still something to think about.
Don’t let the world’s events pass you by. Don’t sit and complain, later on, about the changes that started while you were still focused on more important things. Think, be involved, listen to another point of view.
Our future depends on it.
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ŠThe Voice 2007
Revised 01/13/2008 03:08:09 PM — http://www.uamont.edu/Organizations/TheVoice/5_9/think.htm