Thoughtful engagement: More than a status update

by Sam Ruth – First Year Experience Communications Manager

Millions of times a day, all over the world, people log onto Facebook and read a story, article, funny picture, or political graphic and either scoff or hit the like button. Then they scroll on by, moving on to the next bit of neatly packaged entertainment. Their mind is already made up.

Thoughtful engagement is lost skill in our Facebook generation. Political partisanship, religious division, and even sports fanaticism are determined by arbitrary events and never seriously considered again. Imagine if science discovered aspirin and decided they no longer need to do any more thinking. Clicking “like” won’t find the cure for AIDS.

This line of thought is relevant to current college students. If you made the decision that you are against immigration ten years ago and have not given serious thought since then, you are doing yourself a great disservice. Somewhere along the way, we stopped asking questions and just went with our gut. We pressed “like,” made a comment and scrolled on. We lost the level of critical consideration that gave us advanced technological innovations and the most cutting edge scientific breakthroughs in the world.

Sam Ruth takes his position as FYE Communication manager to the next level with a regular editorial for the Horizon.

If there is a solution to that which divides us sharply in our country, it is for the general population to become more engaged. On October 9th, 2012, Sonia Nazario, Pulitzer Prize winning author and former L.A. times investigative journalist, visited our college and spoke about immigration. There was a speech followed by an audience question and answer portion.

Later, during a book signing, Sonia Nazario discussed the issues of immigration and people mingled together, considering Nazario’s suggestions and reflected over the evening’s events. Because students have spent time learning about immigration from sociological, psychological, and historical perspectives, they were prepared to engage with Nazario.  Students engaged Nazario in animated discussion during the book signing. Some students shared that Enrique’s Journey had changed their personal perspective; it had sparked an interest in the environmental and economic realities of migration. They were able to listen to a true expert on the topic and ask questions relating to that issue. Many students left the event with a much better understanding of how immigration affects the United States. In short, students prepared, engaged and learned.

While informative events of such acclaim are not always readily accessible, Nazario’s presence illuminated the value of true scholastic engagement. Hesston College students rose to the occasion.  Now, if only we could peel ourselves away from Facebook to genuinely engage more often.

While most people have an opinion on every subject, I would urge you to move beyond a simple opinion. The issues that face the United States are much too complicated to be put into a box and kept there. It seems so easy to forget that political partisanship and religious division are multi-dimensional.

The question we should most often ask is, “What questions should I ask?” Let’s remember what we learned through the Nazario event and ask questions before formulating an opinion. As a campus, I urge us to thoughtfully consider before pressing “like.”

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