With the spring semester now ending, students across campuses worldwide are clearing their brains. It is important, however, to continue gaining knowledge, or at least pondering its value while we have the free time over the summer. This pursuit of knowledge is what leads minds to new discoveries, philosophies and inventions. The basis of such knowledge, though, is not knowledge at all.
As we grow and learn, certain principals are instilled in each of us without our knowledge of alternative values. As we continue in our quest for knowledge, there is a need to re-evaluate the ‘knowledge” that each of us holds so dear.
From the time we were conceived, people have made decisions for us based on what they believe is for our own good. The cultural transference of ideas is forever ongoing, and in order to feel that we truly know ourselves, we must understand this culture. For the most part, they were correct in their decisions. For instance, they were correct in telling us not to eat yellow snow, or hop in a stranger’s car for candy.
Decisions that now come into question, though, are those that I once believed were my own choice, but now see differently. Religion, political views and positions on the world are some that I always held dear as my own.
Finding new knowledge can be fulfilling and exciting, but I believe that the most rewarding knowledge is revisited. Students, teachers, parents and all adults should take the time to revisit what knowledge they hold most strongly.
Over the long summer ahead, or for our seniors in the many years lying ahead, we should continue to analyze our knowledge base so that we can truly explore and experience everything that this world has to offer.
I now begin to wonder how much of my knowledge is my own. Are my religious views my true beliefs, or are they what my family fostered into me from birth? Are my political views my true opinion, or are they shaped by the adults that taught me about politics? All knowledge is shaped by surrounding individuals and experiences, and in no way should that change; but what I am now noticing is that it is pivotal to take a step away from these external pressures and rethink why these positions are held. The key question to ask is “Why?’ Why do I believe this? Why am I so certain that this belief is the most sensible? Why are other beliefs less credible than the ones that I hold?
If you think about it yourself, you may find that you don’t honestly know what you know or what you believe. Some may not even know why they believe so strongly in what they do.
Try something new this summer: Attend a religious service of a different denomination or ask someone with different beliefs to explain their position. Read a book about a different political or social idea, and ask yourself why you chose the opposition. Think about how and why you are reluctant to change, or the repercussions that may occur. It is rare that the repercussions of changing your belief are more consequential than the gratitude of finally being where you belong and knowing your true beliefs.
Over the summer, it is essential that we undergraduates explore what and why we do every day. For those graduating, this is the perfect time to think about the values that define us. You never know what may have been right in front of you this whole time.
Rogers is a member of
the class of 2012.