The Declaration of Intellectual Independence by A Collection of Students at Boston University

A Call to Those Who Care,

We are coming of age in a broken world. We have been stretched too thin, purposefully confused by a discourse of distortion, a discourse that consistently fails to reflect reality. It is Our duty to mature as We prepare to fill positions of power in this broken world, to ensure that We contribute to it Our carefully constructed solutions to the best of Our ability. After a thorough observation of Our surroundings, We have devised a list of earnest grievances. Our political parties value the best-funded idea over the best idea, sacrificing the Democratic nature of Our government for power. Our media have become a farce, a body motivated by prospective profits instead of seeking to spread truth. Our education system continually stresses memorization, dependency, and stagnation, stifling Our creative thought and innovations rather than encouraging them. And, most importantly, Our society and culture perpetuate an attitude of apathy toward all of these issues. In short, corruption has engulfed Our society, politics, education and economy. We have become limited as a result of compromises made by these institutions in pursuit of their selfish definitions of the “greater good.” And We have let this happen; We empower these establishments every day through Our consent, whether active or silent. This is by no means an acceptable or productive course of action. In order to free ourselves from these restraints and embrace Our responsibilities, We must declare Our intellectual independence.

Intellectual independence is a natural, unbiased curiosity, a challenging of the cultural forces that mold the minds of Our generation. Intellectually independent human beings ask why and how Our institutions function. They seek to identify the foundations of their thoughts and actions, renouncing seemingly automated actions and behaviors in favor of introspection.

It must be Our goal to acknowledge the need for this change, and then to act upon that need. In addition, We must achieve an awareness of the rationale behind Our behaviors and their effects. To do so, We must ask the most fundamental question of all: “What ought I do?” When Our unquestioned understanding of truth prevents Us from arriving at an answer, We are stripped of Our individuality and thus allow ourselves to be manipulated by societal constructs.

We must take on the burden of occupying an unwanted but necessary position in society.  In times of turmoil, such as those in which We currently find Ourselves, those individuals who provide the necessary solutions are those who overcome the social stigmas of being different.  It is those who question everything, who investigate deeply-held and unchallenged traditions, and who dare to be labeled as outcasts, who shape Our world. We must embrace these roles and let Our actions serve as examples for others to follow. It is Our belief that an adherence to these principles of intellectual independence can serve as the foundation for the future in which We seek to reside.

A true democracy, one in which power resides with the people, is characterized by the free exchange and discussion of ideas. This power has been lost, sacrificed to the talking heads of Our media and the distant politicians in Washington who have convinced us that they know better than We do. But through its reclamation, we shall build a more prosperous community. Overcoming Our corrupted institutions can be done by simply becoming invested in Our political system and making the conscious effort to fulfill Our civic duties.  Let us assemble together as equals to form Our own ideas through conversation and to utilize democratic processes to implement our agreements.

We must also think critically about what it means to Us to be university students, for the purpose of the college experience has been twisted into a caricature of its former self.  No longer encouraged to find Our passions or develop high ideals, We are instead told by Our society to drink, fuck, and turn assignments in on time.  With these expectations coloring the college experience, it is imperative to be critical of Our own studies and Our own behavior.  An educational system can only create a society capable of governing itself when it encourages students and creates an environment of intellectual growth and critical thinking. Through careful introspection and meaningful discussion, We can foster such an environment.

Most importantly, instead of merely conversing with Our peers about these issues, We must remember to take action in light of our newly formed ideas.  It is easy to lob criticism from the safety of the college dormitory – it is quite different to take the knowledge we have gathered, from our textbooks and our experiences, and apply it to Our world.  However, the decision to be engaged, to be informed, and to assert the validity of Our own ideas will craft the paradigm shift we desire.  We must actively decide to be engaged and involved, actively challenge norms, formulate opinions, and explore different points of view, all consistently and without fear.

To this end, we commit ourselves to formulating a generational consensus.  However, before we can come to such a consensus, we must first ask ourselves what we ought to be doing as students. Therefore, we commit to convening in a year’s time to create a campus-wide social contract.

It is the unquestionable right of every person to seek out truth and to determine the course of Our actions. Intellectual independence is humanity’s right by birth. This right has been the silent drumbeat at the heart of every battle for freedom in human history. It has been referred to at times as moral liberty or autonomy and at other times as mindfulness or enlightenment. Regardless of the name that it is given, this freedom is a fundamental characteristic of being human.

In order to reclaim this most basic and fundamental right, We, a collection of students at Boston University, declare Our intellectual independence.

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