This semester must be getting under way, because I was up at 10:30 yesterday morning and worked until the same time in the PM. I’ve had thoughts, if even fleetingly, of being Opinion Editor since my second column went to print. Every time after that first, terrifying, column, that I’ve seen my byline, I get filled with a bit of a high, a buzz on life. Everytime I get attacked for what I write, everytime I get applauded for what I stand for – all of it, the good the bad, my mistakes and my triumphs, fills me with a high. The process of my writing, too, fills me with a dread and a hate for words that absolutely stimulates my brain, my senses and my passion for the printed word that, in the end, makes me love it all the more. And now – now – finally, I’m editing, and it’s such a different high but a high nonetheless. My years and years of being an English nerd shine through when I see grammatical error – whom vs who to spelling and punctuation. My years of getting caught with a book hidden under my desk at school, staying up past my bedtime with a flashlight under the covers, helps me find the mispelled words and incorrectly used words, phrases, euphemisms. And my years as a student of all subjects, as a university undergraduate trying to find myself, figure out what ‘education’ is really about – helps me find flaws in logic, point out weak ethos, pathos, logos; helps me ask questions, find answers, challenge my writers to stretch themselves.
I’m not sure that I’ll be the best editor or even come close – but already, after only planning, producing and editing material for one issue of the paper (5 pages of opinion!), I feel my entire self being immersed. I’ve spent hours and hours over the past month and summer – sending out emails about the opinion world, great writing, poor writing, humorous writing, cartoons, etc. I’ve only ever felt myself so fully and deeply, whole-heartedly immersed in two other jobs/passion my entire life: camp and gymnastics. And both – I know through and through, poured my heart into and love. And this job, I can feel it already going the same way. I can’t wait to be able to really sit down and edit with each columnist, learn from them as well as try to teach them the little bits and pieces I’ve learned along the way. I can’t wait to finish the Opinion Manual, have our first meetings, meet my writers and my cartoonists. I can’t wait to keep writing, force myself to produce. When I sat down to write my own column, my first in a year and a half, I found myself terrified, unsure whether I still had it in me. I can already feel an easy pull towards editing – for me, the teaching and correcting comes easily and less-fear filled than producing. When you write, you pour yourself onto the page and you expose yourself for so many to read, to laugh at, to tear apart. It’s definitely part of the high in writing, but it’s also the hard part. When I finally finished my column, re-read it, took a deep breath and realized that I still have it… and felt that intense rush of energy, I realized that for me, I can never just be an editor, no matter how much I end up loving this job. I have to keep producing – always.
Anyway, here’s my first column. It’s not my strongest, but for not writing for so long, I’m happy with it, and I feel much more comfortable in my ability to quickly get back into my groove. I used what I’ve learned from the summer to welcome students back, introduce myself as opinion editor and encourage students to get involved with the paper this semester.
I also worked with art department for this Back to School Edition of the paper, and they did caricatures of each of the columnists, that are going to run with short bios that each writer wrote about him/herself. My picture is with the column. The art staff did a phenomenal job – I’m not quite sure this looks like me… but it’s still an amazing job, and I can’t wait to see everything in print when I get back to Lincoln.
Senior English and Film Studies
Who controls the world?
I’ve spent the last three months asking this question and, perhaps more importantly, trying to answer it. At the beginning of this Quest for Truth (on par with the magnanimity of the Holy Grail, I assure you), I thought, without a doubt, that I already had the answers:
Oprah (er, God?)
Yes, it must be Oprah.
Knowing the answer, I smugly contented myself to doing the daily tasks at work.
After documentaries, news stories and hours of interviews from environmental, human rights and political experts, I finally began to see our world and global leaders in a different context. – one that opened my eyes to the gravity of those four words.
This summer has been filled with protests, with activism and also with corruption and abuses of power. I started to question where power lies, how its used, and who really does control the world.
Is it China? With the Olympics being hosted in arguably the world’s most notorious country for human rights violations and shady governmental decisions and cover-ups, there has been an onslaught of media attention on the country, but it hasn’t seemed to phase the Chinese government.
Protesters have filled their streets, marched with the torchbearers for the past several years; Students for a Free Tibet (www.studentsforafreetibet.org) formed, and has become a national and even international movement and force; experts have made statements on China’s wrongdoings, giving reason to how and why they need to clean up their act (and streets and air), and still, China has yet to respond.
Is it the presidential candidates? With no talk of campaign finance reform in the future, John McCain and Barack Obama continue to raise millions of dollars, put out attack ads against the other and play the ambiguous-on-the-issues political game. America is stuck in the midst of a molasses filled political sphere, unable to move either way, to find truth or reason.
Is it George W. Bush? With his newest attack on womens’ rights, trying to argue that Viagra but not birth control should be covered by health insurance (backed by McCain), he once again is proving that perhaps too much power is in the hands of the president.
Is it the World Trade Organization? With the collapse of the Doha talks this summer, millions around the world celebrated, positive that now power will be shifted amongst global financial institutions instead of almost solely in the hands of the WTO.
But WTO talks have collapsed before, and still the WTO has unprecedented global power. How do we create a system of checks and balances for these global institutions?
On our very own campus, is it the Chancellor? Is it ASUN? Is it the Athletic Department? Recently two wrestlers were kicked off the University of Nebraska-Lincoln wrestling team for posing nude. Without formal NCAA rules regarding the situation, the decision came down to UNL officials who decided that the two men did not represent Nebraska well enough and, I guess, therefore didn’t deserve to continue to wrestle.
These two men have been given little room to fight back, the decision being based in subjectivity and impromptu rule making, not to mention their talent and skill being tossed to the way-side for the purpose of exercising power and control on the part of our supposed leaders.
Everywhere we turn, we can see this kind of corruption in our leaders. And while all this exists, and it exists within institutions and leaders we want and hope we can trust, the truth is that at the end of the day, none of these people or governments or institutions controls the world.
At the end of my searching, I realized the answer to, “Who controls the world?” had been within myself the entire time.
In fact, the answer was myself. And you.
As individuals and together as the collective, unified voices of dissent, disagreement and agreement, we have the power to change the world, no matter how daunting that task may seem at times.
This year as Opinion Editor for the Daily Nebraskan, I will use my voice, my talents, my skills to take back control of our world. I will present you, reader, with an opinion section that represents a variety of interests and political beliefs, and mostly, your voice.
I encourage you to take control of the world. Make your voice heard.
Become an activist for the causes you support, whether it’s on your dorm hall or starting a national movement.
Vote in the November election – take part in choosing your President.
Challenge corruption and governmental authority by writing letters to Congressmen and women.
Utilize the Daily Nebraskan. Write letters-to-the-editor. When you read something you disagree with, I encourage you to find the errors, point out the flaws and tell us why you didn’t like it. Challenge us to be better writers, and in turn, we will work to provide you with material to engage with, to agree and disagree with.
Whether big or small, your actions can and will make a difference because the truth is, Oprah can only buy you (and your family) if she wants, but you control the world.