No matter where you are in the world, a lot has happened this week and from what I can see, we have a lot to talk about. That very idea itself is actually what I want to address today: I have so much to talk about and I actually can talk about it at all. The question is, how do I do so productively?
I want to address this using two stories that maybe you’ve heard this before, so let me know if this sounds familiar to you. They are the only two stories my parents told when I was younger that seem to be so ingrained in my head that I’ll probably never forget them:
Story number 1:
My parents grew up in different places and went to different schools, but that didn’t matter because both of them had to go through treacherous paths and thankless battles just to get to school. They had to fight their way through monsters and even walk both ways, uphill, just to get an education. I used to complain about riding my bike to school about a mile away, so you can imagine that I heard this one quite a bit.
There was only one small hill on the way to my elementary school and you bet I enjoyed going down the other side of it too.
Story number 2:
If I didn’t know the answer to something—you know the “why” stage kids go through when they ask why the sky is blue (trick question, it isn’t) or how to spell “onomatopoeia”—they would tell me one thing: look it up.
After all, they grew up with heavy encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other books that held all the information they needed. It was their job to go to the library, find archives, and do hands-on research for what they wanted to know “old school”; nowadays us youngins have access to just about anything at the tips of our fingers. So if I have a question, I should go find the answer myself.
Because I can.
You see, they may not seem fully related, but in actuality, these two stories have everything to do with one another. And I don’t mean that in the way they were both told by my parents. I mean that in recognizing the lesson from one can we see that of the other, and only in understanding both can we properly interact with the wealth of information around us today.
Let me explain.
Every week, I come to you with something I’ve learned, what’s happening in my life, or recent news from around the world. I do so in order to heighten awareness and open the opportunity to have a discussion with other people about what is going on around us.
Just this past week, here are a few major things I’ve seen happening in my world: the Cal Poly community called for the rescission of a potential Office of the Diversity and Inclusion emergency hire’s offer here, the Harvard, MIT lawsuit against ICE’s new rule regarding international students is gaining ground here, and Simone Biles’s new Vogue cover receiving mixed opinions for reasons you may not expect here and here.
Each of these issues finds a focal point around a different group of people when it comes to race, class, gender, ability, etc. They range from international students and families, two college campus’s diversity and Title 9 issues colliding with one another, and the portrayal of one USA Gymnast on a prominent, yet controversial, magazine.
All of these spheres are different; however, they intersect on one point: we all have our opinions on how we read them and what we plan to take away from them when we do. The way we all learn and grow, depending on influences and a multitude of other factors, changes how we form our opinions on these kinds of issues. No matter how much we know about these three things, each of us will most likely have a different judgment.
Some of the issues people judge are moral while some are more practical/technical. Most of them, however, result in people arguing on social over who could research and talk about their ideas longer.
When I take a step back, it’s not hard to realize that yes, we do have a lot of information at our fingertips. Sometimes we actually have too much information. Occasionally I find myself researching an issue to the point where I’m knee-deep in internet searches and webpages that I feel as if I know everything I need to know—but what if all I’ve done is search things supporting what I’m thinking or what I wanted to hear?
What if instead of asking other people what they thought about some of these issues, I told them what I thought and left no room for discussion? As someone who likes to sometimes think that I’m as educated as I need to be or I can find all the information I need to know online, I’m only doing half the work if I forget to look at anything outside of what I think I want to find.
Because at the end of the day, of course, it is not possible to walk to school both ways uphill. That being said, I know I sure as hell will never get to the other side if I don’t do the work to sit down, listen, and consider that maybe I don’t have all the information either.
After all, I am still learning, and my parents might have a bit more to teach me—even with the same old stories. A lot of what I’m seeing in politics and everyday life right now is a whole lot of people talking at one another and no one talking with one another. Have a dialogue. Ask questions. Listen. Understand the context. Figure out where your ignorance lies—we are all ignorant of something.
It’s only shameful if you do nothing about it.
Today I’ve brought you a few issues going on around me, but I urge you to sit back and listen to what’s going on around you without deciding what your opinions are before you hear the whole story. Just pay attention; I think we need more of that right now.
Let me know what you find. I’ll see you Tuesday.