Fresh Takes Opinion — 14 December 2013

I’ve known that I’m a capable writer for a good portion of my life.

As a very young child, I used to stay up at night, under a blanket with a flashlight, and write myself stories with a Crayola marker. When I was in the 5th grade, we did a class exercise where kids would get into groups of four and one person would start a story, the rest of the group taking turns until it was finished before it was read in front of class. My contri- butions always seemed to be a highlight.

Even in high school, my essays were usually a cut above the work of my peers.

But I never felt very confident as a writer. Not until I got to the Express.

I started as a staff writer, then became the News Editor, and worked my way up to holding the positions of Managing and Opinions Editor.

Now, I’m in my second and final semester as Editor in Chief.

This is where that journey ends, on page 8 of my last issue as EIC.

Somewhere along the five semesters, I estimate to have roughly spent about 1,000 hours total in room 2409 (there’s a joke in there about journalists not having to do math), I was given this column where I could write whatever the hell I wanted on the back of each issue.

“LPC’s Super Liberal,” we called it.

Again, that particular label being something I wasn’t entirely confident with. The Express gave me confidence in that, too — a newfound belief in my own convictions.

While “Super Liberal” is a punchy title designed to let you, the reader, know exactly what you’re getting yourself into, it may be a bit of a misnomer. I’ve always considered myself a humanist, first and foremost.

That is that I’m concerned with what happens to my fellow man. How people group themselves together or how they deal with each other.

I’m interested in how the individual interacts with the collective. How institutions interact with the well-being of the individual person.

Maybe I’m a liberal, maybe I’m not. If being concerned with the well-being of people other than myself makes me one, so be it.

If not counting my life in dollars and cents makes me a liberal, well OK, I’ll accept it.

As much as I dislike labels — as they reduce people to short descriptions that elicit immediate judgement — thanks to the cathartic ability to let my heart sing when I write these articles, I’m now more in tune with myself.

I reject what Charles Bukowski described as the “genius of the crowd.”

The ability groups of people have to influence the thinking of the individual.

To impart their prejudices, their likes and dislikes, their hatred into anyone unfortunate enough to lose their identity by getting swept away with the crowd.

Be it churches, governments or cable news networks. Heck, even my own friends and family — I try to live free of institutional influence.

I’ve always tried to look at things honestly, and judge them on their own merits, outside of the conventional wisdom. I’ve always had in mind the goal to tell my own particular brand of truth.

I’d like just to be an honest person, both in print and in real life.

I can think of no better character trait to possess and thanks to the Express, I’ve learned to not just strive for honesty but to let it be ingrained in me like a reflex.

So, with that all being said, let me take this opportunity, to thank a few people and things that got me through those long, long, long Wednesday nights when the paper was in production.

Thank you to Melissa, for pointing out my pronoun disagreements of which there have been many. She’s the grand champion of Mass Communications here at LPC and a tireless worker who has provided more help to me than I can ever truly express.

Thanks to Mr. T because I pity the fools who submit their writing to him. But despite how frustratingly comprehensive his edits can be — they’re the mark of a dedicated educator. Someone who pushes you hard to be better until eventually you find that you are. I wouldn’t be half the writer I am now without his help.

Thanks to Ben and Martin, for being there with me from day-one, which automatically makes you two of the most thick-skinned people I’ve ever met.

Thank you to every staff or editorial board member who helped me put one of these things together.

We went to war every week even if it was just the war against our own laziness.

I respect and admire all of you, especially if you stuck around longer than a semester.

Thank you to the not-so-dearly-departed Elite Cafe for giving me gas that impaired me on many production nights. Thank you to Fresh and Natural for renewing my faith in campus cuisine.

Thank you to you, for reading.

So now it’s on to the next part of the ride, for me.

As far as what will become of this column, that matter will be decided when the next boss of the Express is chosen.

There is a process for EIC selection but I have a strong notion as to who will be next person up and this paper will be in extremely capable hands.

Well, we’re approaching my last words in this paper as its boss, so let’s make them count.

In my news writing days, I always liked to end with a quote.

“I believe that it is better to tell the truth than a lie,” HL Menken said. “I believe it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe it is better to know than to be ignorant.”

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