Monday, September 1, 2008

Information Overload!

One of my strengths, according to the Strengths Finder test, is Input. I gather and assimilate all kinds of information, making connections, and sharing them with others. Sometimes I haven't thought of something I've read for years, then it comes up in conversation and I'm like, "Yeah! I read that...(yadda yadda yadda)." People say, "How do you know that?" I couldn't tell you where I learned it, I just know.

Obviously, this can be a curse, too. People want cold, hard evidence to back up opinions. I can say "I read it somewhere," "I heard several different sources say it," or "I thought everybody knew that," but it doesn't hold a grain of sand. Debaters want verbal APA and MLA citations. Well if I carried around the internet with me, I could probably figure out where I read or heard something. But that doesn't happen, and I read, watch, listen, and learn A LOT!

Lately I've been reading a book called The Tangible Kingdom, about becoming a church without four walls, programs, and the five-step model to "getting saved." Am I the kind of person who will step out and form community outside what is traditionally known as "the church," or do I just like to talk about the idea of it? I am challenged, not only personally, but corporately. What part do Andrew and I play in bringing this kind of vision to our own "church," who may or may not receive it well? Maybe they will be ready for baby steps, though. I will just wait, watch, listen, and act when given the opportunity.

I've also been following politics. I watch television, movies, YouTube videos, I read articles, blogs, magazines, books, and I try to decipher what is true. I try to see through emotionalism, spin, partisanship, and pandering to constituents. And I have to say, people make a living trying to do this, spending all day all week following, studying, deconstructing, analyzing the candidates. And I think I can do this as a free-time hobby? What is free-time, anyway? I'm supposed to be studying for the GRE and writing a portfolio! I just have to keep synthesizing what the experts say about the candidates and draw my own conclusion. Hopefully I'll have one by November 4th.

Just a couple hours ago, Andrew and I finished watching the movie "Darfur Now." To say it was enlightening, amazing, inspiring, etc, is to sell it short on a few limited words. Just see it for yourself. I sit back and think, there are hundreds of stories like this one all over the world. What can I do for just one of them? How do I fully help, while not ignoring all the other places where injustice, poverty, and war reign supreme? I will do what I can for what I know. And I will always be gathering more information, learning more. But there is not enough time in the world for one person to make a difference. That is why I have to trust that drop by drop, the bucket will be filled.

I definitely have my times of "information overload," but I wouldn't trade it for an isolated bubble of an existence. I wrote an essay about specialists and generalists once, and in it I argued that generalists assimilate information from the specialists and provide broader perspectives that in turn help focus and unify the specialists. I can't bemoan the fact that I don't have enough time to deeply study everything I'm interested in. If I can use my strength of "Input" then I can contribute to the education and awareness of others. For instance, I can show how being a true Christian means also being concerned about "the least of these;" and how that concern can flow outward using the privilege of voting to effect law and policy that can help those in need; but most importantly, how that concern can flow outward from our own hands, feet, words, and wallets.

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