Published: Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Updated: Monday, January 7, 2013 17:01
Ever notice how breaks are always simultaneously too long and too short? That's how this one felt. It seemed like classes ended, then Christmas, New Year's, and now here we are, back again for more. All in three short weeks. I need a break to recover from my break.
Nah. I'm actually looking forward to my classes this semester. Just got my books in the mail yesterday – thanks, UNO Bookstore, for saving me the trouble of shopping again – and they look fun and challenging.
But I'm not here to ramble on about classes. Not this time, anyway.
In the spirit of New Year's tradition, I'd like to offer a few resolutions of mine that I hope you'll all take something from.
Unlike most resolutions (like exercising more, losing weight or finishing that novel you've been working on since high school), which are typically broken, forgotten, or just plain ignored within the first six weeks of the making, these are the kind you can keep in the back of your mind throughout the year and fulfill in small daily bits.
So sit back, grab a cup o' java juice, and read on.
Learn Something New. I'm not talking about paying attention in class, though that's not a bad idea either. I mean something truly new. Click on that NPR link your nerdy friend posted on Facebook. Browse through a copy of Scientific American (or Parabola, if that's your thing). Pick up a new hobby, and work on it every day. It doesn't matter what, just try and learn something new.
Pass it On. Once you've got that new stuff in your head, share it. Information wants to be free, so open the cage and let it fly. Be prepared to hear “yeah, I know that,” and if you're the person saying it, don't be condescending. Remember, everyone you meet knows something you don't. So have a conversation, and add to the sum total of human knowledge and understanding.
Leave the Echo Chamber.
Too often we surround ourselves with people like us. We gravitate toward those who share interests, opinions, attitudes and beliefs. While this may be comfortable, growth and development rarely happens inside your comfort zone.
Step outside your self-imposed box. Question your own assumptions and beliefs.
Avoid Bumper-Sticker Politics. I think you know what I'm talking about. The short, pithy, over-simplifications of complex social topics that are guaranteed to produce a chorus of monosyllabic grunts from people who agree. They generate a lot of argument, but little actual discussion.
You wouldn't expect something like string theory or quantum mechanics to fit on a bumper sticker, so why do you think a concept equally complex, like gun control, does?
Get Your Facts Straight.
We're here to learn how to think, not just what to think. So apply some of those critical thinking skills and evaluate the information you're given. Learn to separate fact from fiction.
One fact of life today is, the people in the media will lie to you. They all have an agenda. A fine example of this is in the days following the Sandy Hook massacre, a story circulated around the Internet about another “mass murder” that had taken place in China. Supposedly 22 people had been killed by a madman with a knife. This turned out to be false – no one died in that attack.
The story was false, and the intended narrative was a lie. So be careful about what you share. Do proper research, and don't just pull stuff from your favorite sources. Turn off Fox News (or MSNBC, if that's your thing).
So there you go. Five simple resolutions to get you started in the new year. Let's all work to make 2013 better than 2012.