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  • Julia Clark

Fearlessness in the Face of Fire


That's me there to the right. It's November, and I'm in Shenandoah National Park. In my opinion, one of the most beautiful places on Earth. I'm freezing (maybe you can tell), hungry, and exhausted. In other words, it was a great day. I see a lot of people who aren't able to experience the outdoors in this wonderful way, simply because our natural spaces are shrinking. The risk of losing beautiful, wild places is made all the worse by climate change. Australia is on fire, the Amazon is on fire, California is on fire. How long before all that's left are a few pocket of forest reserved for only the wealthiest people to retreat to?


Let's talk about school for a moment. It connects, I promise. The University of Maryland brands itself as an institution built on Fearless Ideas, but often America's educational culture encourages us to build our resumes, get good grades, and learn technical skills that can get us a good-paying job after graduation. That's the goal: a job and a salary. We are not taught to innovate, to create, to lead, and to stand up confidently on behalf of the world we would like to see. To that end, I say we are selling ourselves short.


When considering my career options, I didn't ask myself what classes would be easiest, how I could make the most money, or how my peers would regard what I was doing. I think it comes down to a simpler question: what problem do I want to fix? For me, that's easy. I want everyone to breath clean air, to drink clean water, to swim in clean seas, and to hike in bountiful forests.


Of course, the obstacles are intimidating and the case for nihilism is attractive. We've failed to do something for so long and the vested interests are so entrenched that systemic change seems impossible. That's when the fearless ideas come in. Some may call it a bold goal, others call it head-in-the-clouds-delusion. I say its a cause worth fighting for. A world without global warming, a healthy planet, and a bright future are things we can all work towards. After all, humanity has always had a tendency for progress.

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