Homework: Think for yourself

There are so many topics in the world today that need adequate coverage. Subjects ranging from parents who destroy their children’s youth by living vicariously through them to U.S. soldiers in Iraq being sent evangelical texts (Experiencing God Day by Day) that holds Christianity above other religions.
Stories such as these need spread amongst readers, yet it’s difficult to do so without risking bias. I assume people can think for themselves, but that’s not always the case. After all, I’ve even been accused of “influencing” people with my “opinion” even when I state fact and public record.
But this week is different. This week is a chance for people to step away from my critical commentary and devote themselves to the greatest gift they’ve been granted – free thought. It’s my hope that after some deep introspection, maybe people will write and practice free speech as well.
Why am I doing this?
There are quite a few readers who write me regularly and spur on friendly debate. It’s refreshing, but doesn’t happen nearly enough. I think asking for essay submissions (that I’ll happily post on my Website www.natespeak.com) is a great way to shake out the cerebral cobwebs, not to mention give me a break from syndicated sarcasm.
What’s going to help readers and me achieve this is my favorite Website, www.edge.org. I’m hooked as if it’s some interactive heroin. I encourage everyone to check it out after finishing this column.
Edge Foundation, Inc., was established in 1988 from what was previously known as The Reality Club. Its informal membership includes of some of the most interesting minds in the world ranging from Bill Gates to Matt Groening.
The mandate of Edge Foundation is “to promote inquiry into and discussion of intellectual, philosophical, artistic, and literary issues, as well as to work for the intellectual and social achievement of society.” And, no, it doesn’t mean a person has to be some pretentious Ivy League scholar or multi-billionaire to understand what’s being said.
What I find most interesting is their “annual question.” Answers to each question are given from a roster of some of the most brilliant minds in the world then are subsequently published in books by Edge co-founder John Brockman.
In 2005, the question was “What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?”
Two years ago, the question was “What are you optimistic about?”
Last year’s annual question was, “What is your most dangerous idea?”
This year’s question – and hundreds of answers – will go into a book as well, and though we may not be the “brilliant minds” whose essays will qualify, I implore everyone to write.
The Edge Annual Question — 2008 is, “When thinking changes your mind, that’s philosophy. When God changes your mind, that’s faith. When facts change your mind, that’s science. What have you changed your mind about? Why?”
At the time of this column there were 166 contributors writing a total of 113,000 words dedicated to the topic. I’m not going to write an essay on either of these questions. If I do, I’ll write it for my own edification and maybe publish it with my own book as filler. What I’d like to see though are other essays on one or more of these questions. It’s you, the readers’, whom I’m asking to voice your opinion beyond a “Letter to the Editor” and email me your ideas.
In 2005, I would have said there was no God. I couldn’t prove it, but I felt it painfully and knew it to be true.
In 2006, I might have said I was optimistic about writing non-fiction as a profession. I considered it a career.
Last year, most every idea I came up with had the potential to be a dangerous one. I tested the bounds of most everything I did without concern for others.
This year, in attempt to answer what I’ve changed my mind about and why, I find myself redefining everything I think I’ve stood for in the past. There’s a lot I’ve changed my mind about. It’s a great time in my life to answer this question.
So, to answer this year’s question, I have to answer past ones.
Today, I believe God exists though my proof lies in the returned gaze from my children, not a text or temple.
Today, I generally try to avoid non-fiction unless it’s a paying gig. I’m optimistic about fiction and beginning my Master’s program at Antioch University this summer. Then again, it’s non-fiction that makes the best fiction, so I’m also optimistic past factual stories I’ve written will influence my imagination.
And today, my most dangerous idea is that people can’t change their minds. My dangerous idea is that people refuse to change.
Again, I encourage you to respond in your own way, either to the Edge website or to me personally at natespeak@gmail.com. I’m curious what people think and will gladly publish your essays on my Website if you so desire.
Write loud, and speak a different font.

Homework: Think for yourself


Rimrock, United States

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