Initially I wrote a blog about the tragic bombing of a playground that claimed the lives 10 children last weekend, but that just devolved into an angry rant. Thus, I believe a reflection of this past semester is in order.
Foremost, I know there has been concern voiced about the increased ambiguity involving the Pluralism Project which we have been working on. However, I personally do not believe that is an issue or a bad thing in the least bit. All that meant for me was more freedom to conduct and present research in various ways. For instance, you have “Goal X.” Think of “Goal X” as a destination on a map. There are numerous routes you could take to arrive at “Goal X.” It’s not only arriving at “Goal X” that is the ultimate outcome of the project but it’s also learning how to navigate the roads as a means to get to that destination (i.e. research, drafting papers, etc.) Sure you may encounter some bumps in the road, but the next time you have to meet a new goal, let’s say “Goal Y”, you now have this experience to assist you in reaching “Goal Y.”
I believe we tend to forget how useful ambiguity can actually be. Your “return of investment” is exactly what you put into this project. That logic, however, is applicable to virtually anything and everything I’ve come to realize.
When LIU students arrived in Athens I am sure they didn’t know what to expect just as much as we did not. But the experience of hosting them proved to be a highlight of my semester. It was very refreshing to hear intellectual opinions concerning the Middle East articulated by students our age considering that many students at Ohio University may or may not be able to locate Lebanon on a map. And no, I’m not talking about Lebanon, Ohio. Not only did we become friends but the exchange experience also gave way to seeing the situations and conflicts in the Middle East in a new light. You always feel more connected to an event if you know people whom that event is affecting. And that is something that will stay with me for a lifetime.
I walked into the Athens Friends meetinghouse and sat down in a chilly room. A member of the meeting came up to me and told me there were plenty of blankets available for use if I was cold. I said I was fine but thanked him anyway. Then silence took over my ears for close to 45 minutes until a lady sitting in front of me stood up slowly. She stood still in the quite room for a minute composing the symphony of thoughts that were going on in her head. And then there was revelation.
“Silence is the language of God.”
She said it softly but her words hit me like the crashing of cymbals. I suppose it was shortly after this I decided on continuing to document this group of Quakers following the conclusion of our research for the Pluralism Project. They are some of the most genuinely friendly people I have ever met in my life and their ideology resonates with me. I mean what’s not to love about introspection and social justice? My hope is to continue building a report with the Athens Friends and furthermore, to write about my experience with them. Because there is a necessity to document the people who call themselves the Athens Friends and what they are doing.
At first I was skeptical about how the end product would turn out for this project. As the semester wore on, and on… and on I slowly found that the product of our work wasn’t just a paper and a pretty sweet PowerPoint (if I do say so myself) but rather it was an immeasurable amount of personal growth on my part. Unfortunately, the conclusion sounds cliched which I did not intend but it is a sincere conclusion.
“Iron rusts from disuse, stagnant water loses its purity, and in cold weather becomes frozen, even so does inaction sap the vigors of the mind.”
– Leonardo da Vinci
So to conclude my conclusion, the next time you find yourself on the way towards reaching “Goal Y” ask yourself if you’ve grown from the experience at all. If you find you haven’t then attempt to do anything prior to achieving “Goal Y” that you can look back on and say you’ve changed thanks in part to that.