A Call to Imagine
BY ALI MEDIATE
“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge, but imagination.” – Class Theme of 2014
I think imagination means staying curious about what’s possible. It implies an ability to think critically and to think independently from what’s considered “normal.” Imagination is used to think conceptually, beyond one narrow route of perception, to think creatively and combine several lines of thought.
At Evergreen, we know the importance of imagination skills, when to use them, and when we need to participate in identifying common frameworks so that we can imagine better, together. I’d like to commemorate the Evergreen experience and its influence on our refined ability to use our imaginations, both individually and collectively, as vehicles for knowledge and tools for innovation.
We’ve used our imaginations to discover how different subjects relate to one another. We’ve learned to empathize with others using our imaginations as we journey with them through their stories. Our imaginations have facilitated our creative projects; from zines to student-led skill-sharing events. Whether it’s planning a garden plot, or taking a walk through the woods, we have learned to use our imaginations to envision a world moving toward greater equality of conditions for all.
Before Evergreen, I was not aware of the social injustice of our day, from food, energy, labor, privatized prisons, and systems of oppression still alive and well. I am now more aware of my own ethnocentrism. Now, my peers and I use our imaginations to see past what we already know.
On our coming graduation day, amidst the colors, our diverse Evergreen community, our family, and our friends, we will celebrate our achievement. On that day, we will be graduates of The Evergreen State College, and among few who have the opportunity to receive a progressive liberal arts education. We will also be among a small percentage of young adults walking the Earth, today, with a college degree under their belts.
Right now, many of us soon-to-be graduates don’t know what exactly comes next. How will we use our imaginations to create small changes? It’s no secret to Greeners that change is hard. Let’s always remember that our ability to think critically, engage in dialogue, and develop new frameworks will serve us more than the amount of facts we have memorized, or the data we have stored in our hard drives. Our imaginations will assist us as we look through various lenses to find solutions to both personal and social problems.
In knowing that our actions and non-actions hold meaning, let us participate in shaping the spaces we find ourselves in. We are only as strong as our ties and connections. If we choose to stay active, stay engaged, stay personal, listen, ask questions, and speak from heart to heart, we will build our communities while connecting people and resources.
Graduates, take a moment to consider the motto of our Tacoma campus: “Enter to Learn, Depart to Serve.” How do we imagine we will serve our communities, while also remaining within the scope of our finite time and energy? Consider this—what will history books tell of this generation? And–even if there is no guarantee we will see the fruits of our labors in our own lifetimes, how will we choose to act? I hope you choose to remain conscious, stay uncomfortable, and keep imagining.