Lynda Mapes, a well-known newspaper reporter and author, came and spoke to our class on Thursday about how she started out her career in journalism as a young adult. In college, she worked in North Dakota for a congressman as an office assistant. Soon after, she landed an internship as a public defender, but then realized that law school wasn’t in her future. Growing up by seven acres of land, trees, and nature all around, she found joy, wonder, interest, and stories in the outside world. She has since written an entire book about a single tree; her book discusses climate change and how we as humans are really embedded in nature, but it’s how we are interacting with it that really matters.
By encouraging us to find what it is that we love to do, Mapes talked about the how we should let our minds wander because that is where creativity and imagination are grown, and from that, something much more significant may be cultivated. She also discussed the importance of being resilient, because we can’t always control what happens, but we CAN control how we respond to it. Growth comes from learning how to deal with life when it doesn’t always go the way that we planned. Trusting ourselves is key, and understanding that it is perfectly alright if we don’t know exactly what we want to do next – we are the ones who have the power to decide our futures though. Take it from someone who thought she knew what her future consisted of, but after trying different things, Mapes realized what her true passions were!
Bryan Stevenson spoke during Tuesday’s chapel about injustice and asked the question, “How do we respond to the challenges faced in our communities”? It was inspiring to hear his story as a New York University law school professor, coming from a generation where he forced to go to a segregated school because of the color of his skin, and how his father wasn’t even able to attend school due to his race. Many people take their education for granted instead of remembering to be thankful for the blessings and opportunities that they have been given. Stevenson’s main theme was that we are called to be in proximity and respond to the injustices that we see, for it is better to serve and respond to these inequalities than to run away and ignore what is happening. By talking with condemned prisoners on death row, Stevenson learned that being proximate could have an impact on someone’s life. He also stated that we should be doing work in unjust places, places that might make us uncomfortable but where there is a need for justice, redemption, and hope.
Journalists can bring attention to the wrongs pointed out by Stevenson through what has already been seen (or unseen) in society. Many times when people see criminals or the homeless begging on the streets, they immediately assume the worst and they tend to look the other direction. Stevenson said, “We do not want to be governed by the politics of fear and danger. We’ve got to change the narrative we’ve created”. Instead of choosing to ignore, we should have hope for those people even though it may not be easy, for being hopeful means being brave. Journalists can make a difference by calling to action those who need to see and realize the injustices being done in the culture today and have the power to do something about it.
If I was to propose a documentary based on Stevenson’s work, the first 5-6 shots would probably be still images of clear cut examples of injustices in our society, such as a homeless child walking alone in the streets during the winter, or maybe a shy teenager, having identity issues, and being bullied by other kids at school. It can be said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and I think pictures like these can be very powerful. Almost everyone would agree that these two pictures showcase injustice and might even make some feel guilty for possibly having witnessed situations like these in real life but having done nothing about them.