Reflexive Dissection

I believe in microscopes and telescopes. I am a twenty-year-old college student; I have never had an assignment come closer to making my head explode than this one. As I sifted through a lifetime of events and quotations, trying to figure out what exactly I believed in, I kept running into brick walls. My first essay was a lighthearted anecdote about how I was able to fend off against a swarm of drunken hooligans by blasting rap music. I could have stopped there, submitted that essay, and carried on. But I didn’t. My second essay was much heavier than the first. In it, I discussed how Hip-Hop helped me vent the frustrations of living as an Arab/Muslim-American in a post-9/11 America. Again, I could have stopped here and submitted this piece, but I did not. I wanted my TIB essay, which after all is 500-word snapshot of who I am as a person, to be as profound and perfect as possible.

A few days before this assignment was due, I sat and had a long talk with a buddy of mine about things we believe in, and what we did not believe in. After hours of bouncing ideas off each other, it was like this conversation suddenly lit the wick on a stick of dynamite inside my head. A tidal wave of explosive thoughts surged through my mind, and ultimately blew the lid off of this cognitive pressure cooker. Then I remembered an Oscar Wilde quote that I probably saw as someone’s facebook status or on a refrigerator magnet, but nevertheless summed up the situation perfectly: “to define is to limit.” As a twenty-year-old college student, I believe that keeping an open mind to different beliefs and constantly scrutinizing your beliefs is key to the maturation process. Thus far, I have not been through enough in life to have the conviction or “confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof ( definition of belief).” If you were to ask me what I believed in when I was in high school, or even middle school, the answers would be probably be polar opposites. The older we grow, the greater our capacity for understanding becomes, and the more lenses we add to our microscope. As we are able to view things up close, and then step back and gain a more overarching perspective, our beliefs should change accordingly. In the words of Muhammad Ali, “[a] man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.” Just because you believe in something, no matter how strong your conviction may be, that does not necessarily make the belief a true one.


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