As a college student, I’ve become troubled.
When in class, I witness all aspects of life being discussed without limitations. When reading or researching, I often feel as though the keys to changing an unjust world are staring me in the face, just waiting to be harvested. But when I step out of that classroom, or when I close that book, it’s as if a transformation occurs. I feel like I enter into another dimension.
People are willing to scrutinize life and the world in certain environments, yet when living everyday life, often cling tightly to their specific world views, religious beliefs, and ideas of the way life goes on. It makes sense – these are the things that commonly help people to live and function. Personal views, thresholds, and stances can probably be considered evolutionarily beneficial. But I believe that departing from one’s own worldviews for a short period of time – casting personal reservation to the wind and thinking adventurously within daily life – can be invaluable.
Books contain the fruit of generations. Everything from the whole works to the simple quotes of great minds are filters that hone in on the most essential aspects of human life. Emerson once wrote: “We lie in the lap of immense intelligence.” I agree wholeheartedly with this as applied to a contemporary context. What bothers me, though, is the way that the immense intelligence of our species does not live among people as it could.
For many of my peers, time for daring thought is taken up by efforts to secure grades, credits, a degree, and a career. Noble action is typically more illusory than not, and scrutiny of the self, of others, and of the world at large is overshadowed by a desire to get on with life, remain in one’s own comfort zone, and live happily in accordance with the modern world.
Unfortunately, going with the flow is not going to change any of the things that most people subscribe to as bad features of human existence. Things like poverty, disease, and human rights violations cannot be alleviated from behind an immovable veil of self-interest. The bracelets and t-shirts that I see being sold on my college campus – ones that propagate the face of a cause – don’t cut it for the engagement of the general public.
Within any academic community, analysis is praised, brilliance is admired – and rightly so. Strenuous thought and its application is what can, will, and does improve the world. But if this thought does not saturate a people, then it is useless. What survives in the minds of people – what lives not merely on paper, but in the thoughts of individuals – is what matters most. And if this thought lies stagnant – subject only to hesitation of the self and the demands of society, then new ideas cannot come about.
So I believe in fearless thought – in ideas that know no boundaries. I believe in thinking adventurously, and in dreaming of things that have never been.