Continue to change, grow and learn
This is it for me, my last act of participation at Kent State. There’s a lot I’ll miss. There’s also some relief, but no regrets. I’ve found a job, gotten engaged to the love of my life and acquired some massive student loans.
I do hope though that I’ve learned enough to warrant an advice column. Since columns are only 550 words, I just might be able to pull it off.
Major in what you love, not what you think will get you a job. I’ve known I would major in philosophy and English since I was in junior high, and that might be the only thing I was right about then. I’m not saying, “Don’t major in the career-focused areas,” but only do so if you know you want to be an accountant.
Subscribe to a magazine. People who don’t keep up on new developments get boring. Unless you’d like to damn yourself to a life of always talking about you, pick up a magazine about anything you’d like, be it Wire, Harper’s, Bass Weekly or Playboy.
Be as involved as you’d like. One of the greatest things about a large campus like Kent State is that no matter how much time you have or what you’d like to do, there’s a group to participate in. If you’re a soulless resume builder, you can run for Undergraduate Student Senate, or if you like paddling freshman — in a completely heterosexual way of course — you can go greek.
Most importantly, our generation is in a position to understand the world in a new way. According to Ralph Keyes, we’re living in a post-truth era, but that’s not where we need to be. Our generation can take the lessons learned from the French theoreticians of the ’70s and use the history they’ve torn apart to construct a much more honest telling.
We have a panoply of values and beliefs to examine, but just stopping there and proclaiming them all equally valuable is pointless. Bruno Latour laid out a project for criticism that is akin to the project of our generation: using criticism to add to the knowledge in the world rather than taking it away. For example, when we teach American history, we tend to fall into the trap of evaluating the founding fathers as heroes or just a new brand of slave holders. But we can’t just settle for the apple pie or the rotten apples. We need to delve and continue to delve, tossing out the bad and refining the merely OK to get the best possible knowledge.
We owe a fundamental debt to honesty as a value. There’s no question we’ve lost that value in many ways. Cultural relativism certainly hasn’t helped. But by keeping an open mind, yet constantly critical and discerning, we can be honest without cruelty.
There are lazy thinkers out there who will use this for cheap relativism, like the white males who consider themselves a victimized minority or those who think moral values justify their hatred. But building a just world and a just future depends on them losing.
And remember, the doors in the Student Center always open on the side of the KSU seal. Don’t push the wrong side of the door …