I am the poster child for suburbia.
I am a white, middle-class college student with two parents, a sister and a dog. The only thing in my favor when it came to filling college quotas was the fact I’m a woman. My life has been smooth sailing to this point.
And it hasn’t helped me a bit.
A life without hardship is a precursor to a life without passion. This seems counterintuitive, but think: great literature, great history and great loves are born from conflict. Struggles give us our edge. They teach perseverance and creativity. It is easy to be patient if I have never had to wait.
Not that I’m unappreciative of the life my parents made for me. I always had a great Halloween costume and the good peanut butter on my sandwich. I do not wish I was a refugee or an orphan, but it would make for a more exciting life story. As it is, I’ve had to work doubly hard to develop traits other than apathy or naiveté.
I’ve gone on mission trips to Nicaragua and Mexico. I’ve studied abroad in Uruguay. I’ve worked with homeless teenagers in Denver, Colo. I’ve interned at churches in children’s ministry. I’ve been a part of the campus chapter of International Justice Mission and helped start ACU for Fair Trade. I have a heart for the unheard. But it didn’t come automatically.
Journalism has helped create it. Reporting, even on a college campus, has heightened my understanding of people – their interests, their hang-ups, their biases – and my awareness of the traditions and tensions inherent in any community. Interviewing has taught me, often the hard way, to be tactful, sensitive and quick on my feet. Writing often has improved my ability to convey ideas, both on paper and out loud.
The most important thing it has taught me, though, is the value of sharing knowledge. Without a clear perception of the world around me, I would still be a skinny blonde girl wearing sundresses and pink, plastic glasses, oblivious to war, poverty or elections.
And so would thousands of other kids. Without educated reporters writing intelligently on important subjects, a large percentage of the population would continue living in suburban bliss, never knowing their action could have a huge impact on the world around them.
Not everyone can be a journalist – we need a few doctors, teachers and sanitation workers, too. But everyone should have a finger on the pulse of her community. We are the future and fate of the world. Don’t you think we should know what we’re doing?