Imagination and Changing the Future
After my first semester in college, my English 101 professor said, “You should try writing science fiction,” and blinked rapidly—she often does that when she’s thinking. “It’s just an intuition.”
We were in her office and had been discussing my writing and where I wanted my writing to go. Because I was raised on a meal plan that consisted of fantasy novels like Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and comic books featuring heroes like Superman and Batman, I wanted to write about people larger than life and places more vibrant and ridiculous than Queens. I wanted idealism, and my professor saw that in the non-fiction writing assignments I submitted for her class. When I asked why she thought I should write science fiction, she leaned forward, scrunched her eyebrows in concentration, and said, “I think you’re very empathetic, Samuel,” referring to my paper on empathy and my parents’ divorce, and what I had to say about current events. “Write about what you want the world to be.”
Two semesters later and I still had not written science fiction, but my imagination was pressing against my reality, banging on the wall that straddles that threshold, roaring to become the reality. I didn’t want to only write about what I wanted the world to be, I wanted to change the world. I realized this around the same time I studied eco-activism, when I learned from one text that eco-activism begins with the imagination. Because what eco-activists often want no longer exists, eco-activists are forced to imagine what despoiled lakes and decimated forests once looked like before attempting to restore them. This exercise serves three objectives: (1) it identifies their objective, what the region of interest should look like once restored; (2) it identified the differences between the faulty present and that hopeful future; and (3) it identifies the steps to transform the present into that future? This is what I wanted to use my imagination for, and applying to the Future Initiatives fellowship was one of my steps.
This Spring semester will be different in one important way: I finished imagining what I want the future to be, and now I am ready to pursue the steps that must be accomplished for that future to become the reality. The first step is to ensure that I am positioned to enter places of influence, and for now, that means maintaining academic excellence, preparing for the LSAT, working closely with my college’s Pre-Law Institute and the Ronald H. Brown fellowship’s staff, and learning what I can from both my legal writing course and my internship with the Bronx Defenders. The Future Initiatives fellowship serves a special role in that it allows me to keep in touch with the community I want to help, because it makes sense to understand who I am helping before I can determine how people want to be helped and what I can do for them. The emphasis on open discourse and inclusiveness in the classroom and the education system had reassured me that I was likely in the right place.