Last week, as Symposium wrapped up one could find most students either grumbling about their reflection papers or discussing the sessions they found worthwhile. Yet, even with the conversation sparked by our fellow Cobbers, our ever-shrinking attention span means that the conversation on such topics lasts only until the reflection assignments are due.
At Symposium, I learned about the limitless ability to apply one’s faith to daily issues and to undergo one’s own modern day reformations. I felt others’ inspiration flare alongside my own. Speakers proclaiming students’ ability to change and be the change created a tangible atmosphere of hope. Yet, there is something to be said about the lack of application of this enthusiasm. Countless students had moved on from Symposium’s issues before the day was even over.
This attitude extends past Symposium. It can also be seen at Cobber Expo, where students sign up for numerous organizations only to never think about half of them again as the emails sit in their junk inbox. This inability to echo our initial passion is partially due to our generation being the embodiment of distraction. Technology and social media create a saturated fog of diversion. These outlets, while being huge assets, suck us in from thinking twice about issues that spark excitement inside us.
Our potential to make on-campus change is stunted as we try to balance school and life with the reality in our phones. This distraction reverberates on our religious dialogue, or lack thereof, and has created a school that has the same 10 students going to Chapel each week. What would happen if we all truly focused in and completed the tasks we were inspired to do? What if we did more than sustain only the minimal level of application during our days here at Concordia?
It is impossible to do it all, but as a campus that advertises students that will “influence the affairs of the world,” it takes more than baseline participation to make real change. Issues like Taste Not Waste are huge campaigns on campus, yet many students mock it simply as a sticker operation. It is impossible to accomplish such important campus goals if people’s passion for environmental sustainability is simply distracted by the next week’s events. It is paramount that we focus in on our few select interests and stick to them. In doing so, more people can become involved in accomplishing a goal instead of vocalizing their good intentions and spreading themselves thin, creating a campus statement that is hollow of results.
Enacting progressive change is arguably a staple in the liberal arts experience, a fact all Cobbers signed up for. Structured events such as Symposium need to be capitalized on and deserve a long pause in our mental rhythm. One should reflect past the classroom and into how their own personal cause can be furthered. Many of the Symposium events discussed the need to undergo a “reformation,” either conceptually or in a physical manifestation of our world.
This fallout for taking action was seen when Dr. Moe-Lobeda, a Lutheran theologian who spoke at the third Symposium plenary session, asked how many people in the audience had undergone a change in order to conserve our Earth in the past year. A majority of the hands shot into the air. It is well known that sustainability is one of our distinct devotions on campus, yet it was saddening to see all the voices that were laying dormant in collectively creating large scale change. How can we be expected to hold true to these long-term battles such as sustainability if people don’t even facilitate discussion past Symposium?
As a liberal arts campus that prides itself in doing more than simply being interested in change, I would like to think people’s focus extends past their phone screens and reflection assignments. Being passive about a problem does just as much harm as actively opposing the cause. Taking a step of action and developing a movement past class requirements makes the passion from Symposium jump start the annual efforts for change.
Do not allow for daily life to consume you and your goals. Whether it be religion, social issues, education, athletics, ecology, or simply smiling more at your neighbors, don’t let progression of your passion be deleted by the new wave of inattention. Don’t let Symposium be a once a year reflection, but a launching point into involvement.