Hey, who doesn’t love the speed with which a great article can be forwarded on the Internet, hours after an event has occurred? Further, I’ll admit to enjoying the sight of grumpy cat in a clever outfit or even dogs herding sheep into formation to resemble Abraham Lincoln. There’s so much cleverness going around… Internet access to information can be both inspiring and thought provoking. But then what do we do with the thoughts provoked, the sentiments inspired?
I posted an elegant argument the other day from Cornel West and the discussion was great. It’s not important in this example whether one agrees or disagrees with him – he was modeling a skill I believe we should all practice more often. It’s also a skill The OpEd Project supports. He’s expressing a well-founded opinion. He’s making a clear statement that expands and complicates how we’re able to interpret acts and information. We may not all reach the ease and elegance with which he expresses himself, but we can all do it. Every one of us. After enjoying the Internet for a while, we can turn it off and use our experiences, our research and our emotions to respond to the world around us in writing and in dialogue.
The ability to process events and ideas first-hand – to look at a current event and develop ideas about it – that’s what the world needs and what The OpEd project prompts. It’s great to see what others are saying and too often we stop there. We fail to use and expand our own resources to make sense of the world. Luckily, practice and tenacity are the cure. And hey, the Internet’s no equal-access enterprise, but it has provided a broader platform for ideas than publishing has been able to provide in the past. In an era where a Google search produces ten opinions about an event, we can form opinions without even looking at source material. It’s particularly vital that more people contribute to broader conversations.
In my public appearances and teaching, I often say: I don’t want you to think like me, I want you to think more like yourself. How else will we benefit from the wisdom of the full human experience? And once we’ve felt the power of making meaning, there’s no turning back. We build skills, gain confidence and contribute. The ability to write an op-ed is one such skill. Suddenly the world opens up and we can look at any phenomenon, interaction or policy and make meaning of it. We begin to realize that any individual’s view is small, partial and nonetheless vital. We share with others, learn, expand our hearts; we influence others and allow ourselves to change. Now that’s something worth sharing widely.
Kimberly Dark is a humor writer, cultural critic and sociology professor. She is the author of five award-winning solo performance scripts and her poetry and prose are widely published. For the past fifteen years, Kimberly has inspired audiences in fancy theatres, esteemed universities and fabulous festivals. She tours widely in North America, Australia and Europe – anywhere an audience loves a well-told story. Learn more at http://www.kimberlydark.com.