One of the skills this new generation and my generation is losing is the ability to think. We are quick to jump on the bandwagon of the latest trend, fashion, policy, riot or whatever the case may be. One thing I appreciate about my parents is they taught us to think, research and come up with our own ideas. For example, growing up, my siblings and I were made to read, especially in the summer when we were out of school. We had to give a book report to the family so they knew if we really read the book. We were challenged to learn new words and look up words we didn’t know in the dictionary. We had family discussions about issues and events.
Back then, I didn’t understand why my parents made us read and why they always pushed us to learn. Now, I understand. They were fostering a development of life-long learning and encouraging us to think for ourselves. It was not good enough for us to jump on somebody’s bandwagon without knowing why we were on the bandwagon. This continued when I attended Tougaloo College and received my bachelor’s degree. It is a liberal arts school which prides itself on developing its students to think and do. We had many well-known speakers who visited our campus and spoke at weekly events. The common denominator for me was to listen to their stories and successes and create my own path for success. We weren’t encouraged to jump on their success but to use their success to inspire us to “spread our own wings” and fly.
Today, I am so grateful for the background I received from my parents and Tougaloo College because there are so many movements, policies, and trends that if you are not able to think for yourself, you will become a bandwagon rider. Bandwagon riders get caught up in the moment and the sensationalism but have no real backing when it comes to their beliefs, values or ideas. When that ride is over, they wait for the next ride, never really accomplishing anything.
God created each of us with a brain and the unique ability to think and come up with solutions to problems. When the earth was dark and void, God spoke light and form into existence and because of His creative ability, we still have light and the universe today. This same creative ability dwells within each of us and was never meant to be squandered. We must cultivate this creative gift and begin to think and explore life, explore the world, explore others’ viewpoints, explore our differences. This is what makes the world an interesting place in which to live. So next time before you buy the latest fashion piece, join the latest movement to protest violence, buy your child the latest new gadget, speak what you heard someone else say, do your own research. Find your own truth. Be you and be good at it. Be unique. Be a trendsetter. Be a mover and a shaker. Be a leader and see how many people jump on your bandwagon!
~Coletta Jones Patterson