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Opinion | A fond farewell to The Miami Student; a collection of final commentary, thoughts

Kiel's Commentary

By Kiel Hawk
On March 4, 2013

Realizing your limitations is never a fun thing to come to terms with. It's probably safe to say that we all tend to aspire to do things that are out of our capabilities, but maxims such as you can do anything you put your mind to, or nothing is impossible keeps some of those dreams alive. And an especially difficult thing to do is come to grips with giving up some of the things that we love because they are just not feasible or in our best interest to pursue.

One thing that I love is writing. I love to write for many reasons, not the least of which is the chance to convey ideas that will hopefully result in changing something for the better. There is also something uniquely enjoyable about composing a piece of literature. It's like putting together a puzzle or painting a picture. The sense of accomplishment and the beauty of the end result are both rewarding enough for me to have written for The Miami Student over the past year and a half; a year and a half that has by far been the busiest and challenging of my life.

But while writing for the paper has been a pleasure, unfortunately, this is going to be my last article. The reality is just that trying to juggle too many things at once has caused me to invest too little energy into any particular one of those responsibilities to produce at a level that I'm happy with. Accordingly, with this dying breath I am going to briefly touch on a couple of topics, in no particular order, that have been on my To Write About list.

1. We are in trouble as a nation if we do not realize soon that one of the main sources of our political problems is our inability to judge information and decisions as objectively as possible. The birth of super PAC committees and recent trends in campaign financing have turned America into a battleground for a war between Republicans and Democrats, and the media is used by special interest groups to portray the party with opposing beliefs as evil. Consequently, each of us has seemingly joined sides with one or the other and refuses to acknowledge good ideas by the other group, or to admit to wrong-doing by the group that we support. These lines need to be dissolved in our minds before that dissolution will be reflected in American politics. Until then, expect more political stagnation, finger-pointing and sub-optimal policy.

2. With unprecedented amounts of information available, computing power doubling approximately every two years and media that is more interested in ratings and profit than in reporting events objectively, it is going to become ever more critical in the future for us to take the source of information into account before forming opinions about its veracity. Perhaps one of the foremost things that a scientific education has instilled in me is skepticism. We all know that talk is cheap and that we shouldn't believe everything we hear, but sometimes this advice can be dismissed for one reason or another. Seeking information from a variety of sources, understanding where assertions are coming from (understanding who funds a cable network or whether a publication was peer-reviewed, for instance) and being knowledgeable about our own biases will go a long way toward improving the quality of our decision making, both individually and collectively.

3. Finally, try to integrate your work into the grander scheme of things. The foremost reason I started writing for the Student initially is because I wanted to keep perspective of, and have an impact on, the bigger picture. The nature of post-secondary education, and even more so of education beyond that, is specialization. As we progressively settle into our niche, the world inevitably becomes more esoteric. This occurrence is often necessary for us to make a living and is sometimes just the result of pursuing what we are passionate about. But as this happens, it is easy to lose sight of, and stay informed about, what is going on elsewhere.

There is a need for people to specialize, but there is also a need for people to bridge the gaps. Collaborate, share ideas, involve yourself with politics, take an interest in education, and keep yourself informed. All of these things critical components of progress.

It has been an honor to write for The Miami Student, and I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to have done so. Thanks especially to those of you that have been so supportive; you have given me the motivation to spend a few hours writing an article for each deadline amid having a million other things to do. And for all of you that have been gracious enough to read me this far, thank you so much as well. I wish you all the best of luck.

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