Belding: Act on your opinions, but think about them first


Photo: Kelsey Kremer/Iowa State Daily

Columnist Michael Belding believes students should consider their opinions calmly before acting on them. Photo: Kelsey Kremer/Iowa State Daily

Michael Belding

Dear Readers,

I hope you had a productive and refreshing summer vacation. I hope you used the three months between academic years to go on some kind of adventure and learn something about yourself. I hope you are not the same person you were when you read the Finals Tab back in May.

This year it is my goal to foster as much community discussion in this Opinion section as possible. Here you will read not only the opinions of the paid columnists on staff, but the opinions of your peers, professors and staff.

We will promptly publish any submission — any submission, that is, that meets one condition.

That one condition? Your writing must be coherent. It must be synthesized. We do not exist for you to distribute your knee-jerk reaction to events. A good opinion is an idea, a thesis, that has undergone change after exposure to other ideas. Opinions are in a happy medium between tastes (I like yellow) that cannot be debated because of everyone’s differences and facts (2+2=4) that are indisputable.

Opinions can be debated. They are supported by evidence. Opinion holders reject certain evidence that disproves their point by weighing it on the merits. And then you get to decide.

Once a column or editorial is published, you have an opportunity to write in with your own ideas. Those ideas should demonstrate reflection. The Opinion and News sections are not so different from one another. News’ job is to seek the news and report it truthfully. Opinion’s job is much the same. We exist to facilitate discussion about the matters important to you, to make some sense of the factual truths around us so we can go about our daily lives civilly.

Flying off the handle when you hear certain news is good. It is the fire in your belly that leads you to do something about it. That fire leads to making a difference. Next time you complain about the news being full of atrocities and unpleasant goings-on, or hear someone complaining about it, think of this: If there wasn’t anyone to rake up the muck and shove it in a heap in front of you, would you know about it?

Would you find yourself fighting an irresistible urge to do something about it?

Would you call your city councilmen, mayor, county supervisors and state and federal elected officials to urge them to take the actions you can’t?

You can’t do anything about the things you don’t know. If a man walks up behind you with a crowbar, you can’t do anything about the danger until after he’s started bludgeoning you into a pulp. The same goes for all the cheats in business, religion, academics and government. If you don’t know about them, they’ll continue cheating good people out of what is theirs.

Like the rest of this newspaper, the Opinion section is a powerful tool to get members of the Iowa State community thinking. That power rests with the editorial board, with the columnists and with you. Reflect on the news, and report on those reflections. I’ve been told in classes, if I have a question, chances are good that other students also have the same question.

The same goes for ideas. Chances are good that if you care, somebody else does. And if you care enough to publicize your ideas, you might bet on additional people caring.


Michael Belding III