Essays By Jacquelyn Oesterblad That Accompanied Her Flinn Application


It’s just a single sheet of paper, carefully preserved in the back of my file cabinet, typed by my mother and dating back to before I could read or write. My mom’s nostalgic musings (ever more frequent as my senior year progresses) prompted me to dig it out.

My dreams have shifted almost yearly since I was a kid, from chemist to missionary, journalist to lawyer, primatologist to Egyptologist. Each day I’ve woken up with a goal of living as many lives as possible; perhaps I’ve succeeded too much. My head is my domain, but the (very small) pragmatic piece of me has been urging my more naturally idealistic self to find a new domain. Preferably one in the real world that would allow me to eat.

The whole world offers advice on this point, but it all boils down pretty simply — figure out what you love, find a career in it, and then do that.

And so I sit here on my bedroom floor laughing at the two-year-old Jacquelyn that dictated this story, her first story, so many years ago. Her life wasn’t complicated with the concepts of money, prestige, and expectations. She only knew that she had stories to tell, and she told them.

I want to be two again. I want to tell stories. I want to learn everything I can about humanity, teach a few students along the way, and then write stories. My dreams haven’t changed at all; it took a toddler to show me that.

I hate tomatoes. And Ayn Rand. And conceit. But more than anything else, I hate haters. Real haters. The kind that cross the line between disagreeing with someone and begin to despise people solely for who they are. The kind that make no distinction between an idea and the person who holds it. The kind that bar progress.

The world would be a much better place if people had a better understanding of the line between “hating” and hating. William Hazlitt was confusing the two when he claimed that hatred is necessary for thought or action.

I’ve always felt that we have to know what we disagree with to understand what we agree with. We cannot fight for equality without also “hating” injustice.

It’s one of the many reasons I’ve always enjoyed taking the unpopular side and playing the devil’s advocate — there is merit to every argument, and it’s only in realizing what we fight against that we are able to fully appreciate our own beliefs.

We need to know what we stand for, and against, in order to make an impact on the world. But true hatred is not necessary. It doesn’t help anything. Hate, by its very definition, is irrational, divisive, and blind to any truths.

When we hate, we refuse to understand the perspectives of others. When we hate, we toss aside anything positive that an entity had to offer — and everyone can offer something. When we hate, we prevent the free discourse of ideas; we interfere with people’s freedom to be who they are, and that never spawns anything but more hatred.

Hatred can’t create thoughts and actions that are beneficial to the world. It takes love and respect to try to understand someone honestly, and it takes an honest understanding of every opinion to make any real impact.

For now, I’ll make my impact by holding onto my idealism. The world was meant to be a beautiful place, and with less ignorance, maybe it could reach its potential. So I’ll keep seeking to understand all sides, because after all, even haters need a little love.


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