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very day I take on the journey of learning new things in an attempt to find my place in this world. I often wonder if I am learning enough or getting as much as I would like out of my higher education. I wonder to myself if I am doing everything I can do to be a better person, a better student, a better friend? While I dream of one day changing this place for the better, sometimes I lose focus on the present. I find myself always looking ahead for new things… new opportunities… new ways to make myself more approachable in the future.

I wonder if our generation is doomed to repeat the same backwards arguments that our parents and their parents’ parents fought over. It certainly feels like we live in a time of splintered opinion, plagued by indifference and intolerance. While I shake my head at some, I urge you to remember how valuable you and your education actually are.

I want to create a place for visitors to partake in a digital salon.

Philosophical Swag will be a place where I try partly to amuse you and partly to  host an environment to stimulate discussion and increase the knowledge of visitors. I aim to present people and ideas to create discussion and intrigue. I want to help create a new civic society. Developed nations and our country in particular, drastically need a larger segment of the population to become more aware, more concerned, and more intrigued about the cosmos we float through.

   It seems we are all too busy just trying to survive. While we fight over ridiculous, often petty things; it becomes easy to be distracted. I want to pose a question and raise a challenge to you.                  

What will you do over Holiday Break?

Personally, I plan to catch up with old friends, work, spend time with family, and read. That’s right, R E A D. Don’t get me wrong, I love TV. I love video games, movies, and even sleeping… but this break offers everyone a chance to pick up and finish a book out of leisure. ANY BOOK you like! Yes, this holiday season is supposed to be a vacation, a break away from schoolwork; but that doesn’t mean you can’t let your mind go on a vacation through a great book.

You won’t be alone. For the first time in over a quarter-century, Americans are reading more. Across the board, new data shows all ages, all ethnic groups, are reading more. According to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), reading is on the rise due to the work of programs that have sprouted up all over the country to encourage citizens to read. Young adults (18 to 24) have specifically undergone a serious transformation from a 20% decrease in reading in 2002 to a 21% increase in 2008. I bring this development up because not only is it great news but its inspiring and shows if we all do our part we can create a better tomorrow. I truly believe that reading is central to a prosperous, free society and hope that you can join me and embrace our role at this crucial time!

Our culture is at war with itself. We have the largest amount of information available to us since the beginning of civilization, yet if you look at the top internet searches for 2010, the list included 6 celebrities, a natural disaster, a sporting event, and a phone. I’m not saying the top searches should have been “Multi-verse theory”, “Kurt Vonnegut”, and “Green Energy”, (although that would have been nice) I’m simply saying we need a stronger civil society that’s less interested in sideshow cultural meth like Jersey Shore. The NEA’s chair Dana Gioia said it best in 2009, “Cultural decline is not inevitable.” Remember you play a larger role than you think in this country’s future.

As the year draws down and we get a break from our challenging daily routines, I invite you… I encourage you; don’t just catch up with your friends and family over the holidays, have a lively discussion. Ask them about what they are reading? Talk to them about something you learned recently. These are the small steps we all must take in order to build a stronger civil society. Be merry and party this holiday season! I simply challenge you to push forward and help make the future a more intellectual and interesting place. PS

Jackie Onasis Kennedy with the children

If you feel like creating a little extra holiday karma…

Spend a minute to track down one of your favorite teachers from the past’s contact information and send them a “Thank You Letter”. It could be simple like “I sat in your classroom when I was 12 years old and you showed my future love and future career, SCIENCE! Thanks for showing me the way!” Or maybe something a little less hokey like, “Thanks for igniting my passion about Politics! Hope you have a great holiday season!” Either way I’m sure they would love it and deeply appreciate it.

Don’t forget to pick up a book this holiday season!

Thanks for checking out Philosophical Swag!

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