The Matter of Opinion

By JAMES BOWE
On April 30, 2012

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For last year I've been the shadowy voice of The Spectrum. Every issue, I've chronicled the changing tides of recent events and our opinion about this little slice of the universe we call home. You see, I was the editorial editor for this publication. Remember when you saw one of those opinion pieces without an author and thought "what idiot wrote that?" That was me!

There was a reason behind that pseudo-anonymity, and that reason has brought me much closer to understanding something. Every editorial is the collective opinion of our editors, not me. Although I often agreed in part or in whole with the ideas presented, my writing was intended to bring you into a discussion about what's important to all of us.

Our little half hour meetings got heated sometimes. Many issues had multiple facets, and intense feelings would come booming out of our yellow conference room when disagreements arose.

We had the godless and believers, pro-life and pro-choice, black and white, loud and soft, calm and animated, yet somehow we cohered. We accepted each other unconditionally. After we voiced our opinions, things would return to normal. It's actually kind of bizarre thinking about it; we broke a universal maxim of friendly conversation: never talk about politics or religion.

I'm not entirely sure why it worked. Maybe it had something to do with knowing that the editorial meeting was a place for people to safely say what they thought truthfully, or because more than ever there was a feeling of real camaraderie between us. At this point, I haven't a clue.

What I do know is that every editor and writer for The Spectrum taught me something in that room. Without them, even Kurt Vonnegut himself couldn't have salvaged an editorial. All the talent for wordsmithing in the world can't make up for a lack of mind. Our collected effort in thinking about key issues is what made those short writings.

The editorials you see here today are the final iteration of that wonderful coalescence of ideas for me. I'm leaving this school for a while, without a degree. Most of what I've done throughout college has been unfocused. Until very recently, I had no idea what the hell I wanted to do with my life, and I've paid for it in money and time.

Last spring, I felt focus come to my life for the first time ever. Years of underachieving was flipped by a single class and the students in it.

About this time I'm sure you're asking, just like I am as I write this, "who gives a s***?" Why should you care about anything I say? This is just another column by another sentimental senior from a long string of sappy statements.

What I want you to know, more than anything, is that these conversations aren't what separate us. That old maxim about never talking about politics and religion is wrong. Those are the things you need to talk about, but with the understanding that it's perfectly fine to disagree. At our core, we all want the same things for ourselves, our family, our friends, and our nation. We just have different ways of achieving those goals.

Editorials may be published and permanent, but that doesn't mean that the discussion is dead. When you read a column, like this, an editorial, or any opinion piece, you are taking part. It's those discussions that are the essence of democracy and freedom.

That's why I'm glad some of you got pissed off at what I wrote. I'm sincerely happy to hear that some people got riled up enough to call me an idiot, because in your own crass way you have taken part in what makes our nation great, and what makes a free and open society work.

For the next editorial editor's sake, though: remember that everyone's opinion matters, especially yours.

 

Email: james.bowe@ubspectrum.com


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