I grew up a happy kid in the ‘burbs of good ‘ole Atlanta. I liked to talk and listen and debate about religion, politics, truth and jokes, sports, music; whatever the cup of tea was.
I’ve always enjoyed polishing up what I had thought was the best idea with what that clever guy over there just enlightened to me.
That’s what J.S Mill says right? And Socrates. You have to be open to dialogue or else you will never get to find out if the way you think is truly the way to go.
The self-examined life. This isn’t to say I am a relativist. Something is right, something is wrong. Along the way though, there are a lot of things that are grey. More on that topic of grayness, but for now…
Looking up I thought to myself, “This is so glorious [the sky]. You know what, there is no way all the pollution in the world could affect such a huge beautiful thing as Mr. Sun.” Case closed. Global climate change was a hoax. As I walked to the ecology building for my first day of class I was excited. “Gahlee, my first day at geology class. This ought to be interesting…or epically boring. Oh well, I’m just trying to get a slam-dunk A.”
So it was a surprise when I looked up at the power point, in that really cool wood paneled auditorium that tells you right off the bat that ecologists are some of the grooviest scientist on the block, it read Ecology 2010 Global Climate Change.
Well, as it so happened I hadn’t really done any research on the subject since that great June day so perhaps this wasn’t a bad investment of my time.
I’d certainly get some polishing work done in this class. And that’s what school is about right? More on the topic of why we go to school, but for now… I thought to myself, “you’re in for some hellacious debates, Professor Mohan.”
Wow, not a class went by when that now legendary professor didn’t shellac me with research and rhetoric that proved she was so right that those opposed might as well have walked into the class with a brown bag over their head.
They say to watch out for those whacky professors who’ll brainwash you in college, well there are definitely those types out there but when the entire scientific community is supporting a thesis, well just listen and then decide.
I’ll save that messy political activist evolution for another day but what I did learn from what I saw as the solution was: keeping both sides of the table mellow is critical, there are trillions of dollars at stake, energy in all its facets is fascinating, and because of its scope it has the ability to bring unlikely partners to the table in academia, your community, and any other table you can think of.
The Pope is even writing about it.
In my last semester of my senior year at UGA the things that I had learned after 4 years of business, science, and law classes came together in the form of a new club I instigated, The Energy Concept.
The goal is to progress ideas, creativity, business, and discussion around energy related fields. I planted the seed for this organization but it was most definitely the product of the collaboration of a fast-paced team of outstanding problem solving optimists.
Essentially they wanted to polish themselves up and everyone around them in relating to energy. It was eight of us ranging from economics to engineering to ecology and back to international affairs.
We started arranging meetings with other colleges, talking to other university clubs that have excelled in this field; just exploring the demand for something like this out there and understanding our own identity in the process.
What we found was this concept, this specific team, had the opportunity to do something special to flagship different universities and to the whole Southeast by bringing different disciplines, political beliefs, and entrepreneurial spirits into the same fold to polish our ideas about energy in a way that would make Socrates proud.
The semester culminated with a screening and panel hosting an environmental engineering professor, a business law professor, and a solar power CEO.
We had a great turnout and a discussion following our principles of asking the hard questions but keeping the tone neutral and productive.
This was made concrete when the leader of a local environmental club raised his hand. It was directed at the man I knew might send the environmentalists flailing.
A joke that lightened the whole room while still answering the question in a respectful, diligent way. The Energy Concept just made its proof, different beliefs could come together on the subject of energy and keep their cool while learning from one another.
My gist is this, if I can care to seek the truth with an open mind and perhaps more importantly with an open heart I will discover something worth the lengthy discussion we’ll proceed to have at a bar if you and I meet.
If I can find a team of people who think like that and want to do something about it more than they want to Snapchat, we will build something great.