Did you watch the presidential inauguration? Have you been following the confirmation hearings? Or have you been caught inside the “orange bubble”?
At Princeton University, we believe in independent work – in engaging in research, in problem-solving, in examining issues in new ways. When it comes to academics we push you to explore new ideas, consider alternatives, and form your own hypotheses. But when it comes to your engagement with the world, do these independent principles still apply? Or, will you rely on Twitter comments, Facebook posts, or Saturday Night Live skits to relay to you what’s happening around you?
Indulge me for a minute and imagine one circle on the left – this is who you are. Imagine another circle on the right – this is what you know. Now imagine a circle connecting these two – this is your engagement in the world. Who you are affects how you engage in the world, and how you engage in the world affects what you know. And what you know can very well change who you are, or at the very least how you continue to engage in the world.
So maybe you don’t care about the inauguration today because you didn’t vote, because you voted for another candidate, or because you voted for the president and you feel like your job is done. But what matters most is to be engaged.
Today I watched the presidential inauguration. To see it for myself. To hear what was said and what was not. To understand who was there, and who was not. So often, what we experience comes through a filter – we follow certain people on social media, listen to certain political commentary, read certain newspapers, the list goes on and on. So often we unintentionally, or maybe somewhat intentionally, narrow our perspective and stay trapped in that pesky “orange bubble.”
I encourage you to seek out an unfettered view. To pop the bubble and engage. It might be by paying more attention to political happenings or simply sitting down with someone different at dinner this evening. Engage and expand what you know.