Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Challenge to You

Another spring break has come and gone and we are now in the final homestretch of the spring semester here at UNH. We are running out of time at this place so it is important to make the most of it. College is a hell of a drug. But that is not what I want to talk about today. I want to do something different. I want to make a challenge to my fellow UNH students, the faculty, our community, and anyone else who happens to be reading this. Don't worry, I'm not talking about a $25 million fundraising challenge, because quite honestly I can think of 25 million better ways to spend that money on campus, but I'll save that for another day.

There are a lot of crazy things going on in the world right now. Then again, when isn't there? From Libya to Japan to our own country, to our school and everywhere in between there are conflicts, crises, violence and hate. There is too much of that. There is also love; people helping others and conversations being had that are for the better of the human race. There is not enough of that. There needs to be more of that. There needs to be a world where we consider ourselves to all be members of the human race, because that is the only race that really matters.

The United States is basically involved in three wars (that we know about) and we are being told that these are wars for freedom and peace. Think about that for a moment. Fighting wars for freedom and peace. Maybe we should rename our weapons to help make it sound better. During the World Wars everything that was German was renamed to sound more patriotic. Sauerkraut became liberty cabbage. More recently when France did not follow the United States into the Middle East, French fries became freedom fries. This is a war for peace! Those are not Tomahawk missiles; they are liberation-makers, peace projectiles and freedom finders! Doesn't that sound better?

So you are probably asking yourself what my challenge is; I'm getting to it. There is a quote from the movie "Waking Life" that puts it better than I ever could. It is something that I heard during my senior year of high school and something I have tried to keep in the back of my mind for the past few years. The quote comes from a character who is a philosophy professor and during a conversation he says, "It might be true that there are six billion people in this world, and counting, but nevertheless, what you do makes a difference. It makes a difference, first of all, in material terms, it makes a difference to other people, and it sets an example."

My challenge to the UNH community is to be that example. It only takes one person to say, write or do one thing that can set an entire movement into motion. But that might not even be necessary. A friendly smile, holding the door for someone or helping someone pick up sheets of paper they dropped walking through a crowded hallway in the MUB can be the perfect starting point. It has been a stressful year here at UNH and a lot of people have been affected by the recent tragedies, both international and right here within our own community. Small things do make a big difference, and you will influence others around you to act accordingly. Be the example and soon you won't be an example, but will be the norm. I do believe that one person can make a difference simply by being a human because we can think and act on those thoughts. We are all humans; we can all make a difference. Every movement starts small and evolves and grows. It just takes a little time and belief in the idea that it will work.

I recently celebrated my 21st birthday and a few readers sent me messages about wanting to buy me a drink at a bar sometime. I am not sure how serious they were. It would be awesome, but I don't want that. If you consider yourself a regular reader of my column or the blog, take my challenge seriously because that would be the greatest gift of all, something that would benefit our own campus and the human race.

Stay classy, not UMassy


  1. Love this challenge. I founded Pay It Forward @ UNH but due to much of my first small collection of members mostly graduating last Spring and personal issues that resulted in me taking a leave of absence (health withdrawl) from the University the group somewhat dissolved. I would love for this challenge to inspire people! Keep Paying It Forward!

  2. This post is gay - get over yourself you can't influence anything loser!!

    Just Joking.

    Here's my story (second time I typed it because the first time I lost it with a log-in problem so I'm watering this one down a bit) that happened recently and relates to...
    "holding the door for someone"

    I was leaving our Library through some double doors and caught a door half-slamming in my face from the girl leaving in-front of me. I pushed through and held the door long enough for the girl behind me to walk through unscathed.

    Approaching the second door the girl in-front of me held the door long enough so that it didn't slam halfway when I approached it (thanks bitch!) and again I hold the door for the girl behind me and she sneaks through unscathed and begins walking across the walkway towards our Union (think MUB at UNH - same thing)

    the girl in-front veers left towards another direction while I veer right to a trash can to dispose of a empty bag of chips.

    So now I begin walking behind the girl who was originally behind me and we are heading towards the union up a set of stairs to the double doors.

    we get to the first door and she opens it, then steps back, and fully-holds the door allowing me to walk through. This never happens on campus where a girl will hold a door, fully, for a guy. So I smile and say thank you and walk through knowing damn well I'm a part of history on this campus and starting to wonder if I'm going to fall in love with this girl or if I'm just starting to fall in love with the fact that someone would actually hold the door for me like that...

    so I proceed to the next door and open it, fully-holding it for the angel to walk through (it's not just her... all woman are angels)

    and her smile was so big I almost asked her to put it on a diet. (joking, but really she was smiling HAM)

    we both went through the door now and went our separate ways but it was more than just a held door for me - and I think also for her.

    I'm not trying to paint a picture where we ended up falling in love and getting married but there was something more to this door-holding situation where both parties were just so happy to do something small but courteous for another person because it was the right thing to do in their hearts.

    It meant more to me especially since I was just leaving a long library session and had had a terrible nights sleep the night before, combined with some family and friend stresses I was ready to just get out of school mode and get home to watch the Celtics spank the Knicks.

    Her door-holding with a huge smile on her face meant more to me than I will probably ever be able to tell her but somehow I think she knows. And I think this is the kind of caring stuff New Hampshirite is getting at.

    or he's just out of his mind because he's getting old - over the halfway point to getting to over-the-hill status.

  3. It has been a very stressful and sad year, and I think it is hard to get caught up on all the bad and never focus on any good. Doing small good things isn't hard, and should be part of everyone's routine. The bad gets too much attention these days.

    Congrats on your 21st. Better be 'seeing' (considering I have no clue who you are) your ass at Libby's this weekend living the high life.

  4. Good idea. To Maine Guy, your story is obviously made up because it involves people in the library at UMaine. Unlikely.