During my junior year, highly regarded American novelist Robert Stone came to speak at Assumption College in Worcester, MA.
Demonstrating that the pen is truly mightier than the sword, Stone writes not only to entertain, but also to alert, educate, and motivate others, as I plan to do as a journalist. Known for using literature to spark political activism, Stone has written numerous pieces on the Vietnam War, including “Prime Green: Remembering the Sixties,” from which he read several passages.
In this memoir, Stone reflects on his time as a soldier and correspondent in Vietnam, an experience that inspired him to write for a better world.
After Stone had shared some of his work with us, an older man stood up and asked, “Why aren’t kids these days involved like you and I were? Why don’t they do something or try to make a difference in this world?”
Before giving his input on how the draft and the socialists of the 1960s made a large difference, Stone scanned the audience, looking for a brave, young soul who may have some proof of the contrary.
Well, here goes nothing.
“Kids these days,” or Generation Y, are the 76 million Americans born roughly between 1980 and 1994. Also known as Echo Boomers, Generation Y is expected to live up to the working of the Baby Boomers. It has been declared the next big generation, an exceptionally powerful group that can, and will transform every life stage it enters, just as our parents’ generation did.
Like the Baby Boomers, we’re facing an unpopular, foreign, and seemingly endless war in addition to countless other issues. But compared to the activists who spent the 60’s and 70’s fighting for civil rights, women’s equality, and an end to the Vietnam War, Generation Y seems anything but radical. With this, we have been labeled apathetic and self-absorbed.
Although we may not hold sit-ins in our classrooms and protests in the streets, my generation, from what I have witnessed, is no less capable than the generation before us, and language is just as powerful now as it was then, if not even more so. The Information Revolution has empowered Generation Y in a way that no other generation in history could relate to.
With the Internet, we have the world at our fingertips. Online news, discussion boards, web pages, and email allow us to connect with others all over the globe to share our ideas and opinions. With these innovative means of communication, I plan, like Stone, to use journalism to move us towards social betterment.
It may sound cliché, but knowledge is power; and as a journalist, I will empower others through writing that informs and moves the reader. If we are uninformed and ignorant of the circumstances surrounding us, then we don’t have the ability to change them, and if we aren’t convinced that they matter, then it will matter little whether or not we know. Knowledge is the only fuel for change, and language is the medium for painting it in an influential picture.
As a writer, I can’t think of any better use for words than to express truth, to confront injustice, and to inspire advancement. If I can share my experiences and use my talent to make at least one person a more conscious citizen, to motivate positive changes, or to show compassion for those who deserve it, then I feel it is worth my while to write.
Robert Stone once said, “What you’re trying to do when you write is to crowd the reader out of his own space and occupy it with yours, in a good cause. You’re trying to take over his sensibility and deliver an experience that moves from mere information.” As a journalist, I believe that I can change lives by doing just that.
Jessica Trufant earned her B.A. from Assumption College, and is currently a first-year student in the Professional Writing program at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. She enjoys telling stories, traveling, and being in the classroom as both a student and a Teaching Fellow.