Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Agelessness and Open Minds

Let me start out by saying that I've never really blogged just to blog, so if you're going to critique this and hound me for a lack of hyperlinks, save your breath.

To be honest, I really wish more people would exercise the scribes within themselves, venting their minds of the thoughts that often get in the way of progress. This is how I became interested in journalism in the first place - it was a way for me to express myself beyond what my voice alone could do.

When I write, it gives me the time to search for the words that fit my mood just right; like a painter searching his pallet for the perfect hue, I can't help but smile when a a sentence comes together so smoothly that God himself would agree with my statement.

In the same regard, I thoroughly enjoy taking the time to express what I am feeling through my writing. However, there have been times when the effort I have put forth to share these feelings and opinions have been met with close-mindedness in the face of youth.

For example, now more than ever, I believe the idea that age dictates understanding and insight is a complete farce.

My former boss once sat down in front of me and explained to me that my newspaper column at the time was unlikely to be taken seriously based on my age and the topics I was discussing.

Topics such as poverty, being estranged from family members, appreciating not only ourselves, but those around us, seeing the value in certain things; these topics, he said, were likely to be received as preachy and arrogant, whereas if he had written them, they were more likely to be received with open arms. Why? Because he is older than I am, and therefore more insightful.

So, for a while, I tried to dumb things down for appeasement's sake, only to find that I was not as proud of my work as I had been. It now felt contrived and "canned," if you will - as though the words I formed were being pushed through the mold he preferred.

While I eventually switched gears again and wrote according to issues and topics I felt should be addressed, the experience really got me thinking: How many writers out there don't express themselves for fear of being told their age disqualifies their opinion?

I can tell you for certain that someone 20 years older than myself (I am 24) may have more years of life, but does not necessarily have the same worldview or values or insights, which is why age - if anything - should be the exact reason to encourage someone to share their views.

As a country and a people, we pride ourselves on our intellect and our rounded views; we also pride ourselves on how accepting we are of others, but we neglect to admit how often we dismiss others because of their age.

Now, obviously there are going to be some factors that affect this, such as maturity. You can't just walk up to someone who is 14 and expect him or her to be able to engage in a thoughtful discussion without first considering the person's maturity for the subject matter through basic conversation.

However, the point is, you shouldn't simply dismiss a 14-year-old because of his or her age. Or a 20-year-old. Nor should you always give someone who is 55 the benefit of the doubt.

That being said, I would like to encourage you to try two things: First, despite what everyone has ever told you about writing and how only certain people can do it will, take some time for yourself and put some words to paper.

I will admit, not everyone is a professional-caliber writer, but that does not make their words any less heartfelt and real.

Second, instead of seeing someone as the number of years they have been alive and borrowing their credibility from that, speak to them and determine your opinion of them from the words they have to share with you. You may surprise yourself.

That being said, let me know when you want to chat and we'll grab a beer.

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