Each month, the Intercollegiate Review would like to recognize the talent and efforts of our student contributors, who write for the Student Voices section of the IR. The following is an open letter to all free thinkers from Nikita Chirkov.
By now, you have probably heard that you are wrong, that you are misguided, mistaken, confused, irrational, illogical, and dishonest. You have been discouraged, shunned, and even threatened by some who call themselves experts or intellectuals. They label what you say as offensive and insulting to others, and attack your position with charges of heartlessness and insensitivity.
But you are not there to give in to the elementary temptation of following the masses. What you see is a broad, three-dimensional view that may never be fully accepted by your critics’ mainstream ideology. You refuse to confine yourself to the laughable boundaries of settled norms or political correctness. And most importantly, you never forget that the sacred freedom of expression encompasses a right to offend. To you, the idea of ideological compliance—the mental asylum of free thought—is a punishment more severe than death itself. So when the answers provided include “A” or “B” and most people are choosing one of the two, you find the third solution. You bravely pioneer a seemingly exhausted inquiry into new horizons, exploring every crack and crevasse of what is said to be a smooth and clear path. And you are not about to stop now.
Never be afraid of making a mistake; it will only take you closer to higher truths. Be proud of your mistakes and of what they have taught you, even when some may demand that you be ashamed. Never stop questioning your conclusions—you must always hold yourself accountable to the same critical examination you apply to others.
Critics? Love them. Bathe in their hatred and laughable contempt as they desperately try to derail you from your pathway. Don’t be afraid of being called arrogant or conceited—allow the opposition a right to ad hominem fallacies. Observe the truly humbling approach that your knowledge is but a response to the growing ignorance around you, and that the more you learn, the wider the boundaries of knowing grow—with every question answered, two more appear.
However, remember this: without your diligence, your perseverance, and your determination, humanity would be in a much darker place, still shivering in fear from the reflections on the wall of Plato’s cave. Never give in, never settle to common norms, and never stop searching for the truth.
Your battles are the bricks that build our future.
Dedicated to the young freethinkers of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, and all organizations that offer a platform for fruitful discourse to our nation’s youth.
Nikita Chirkov was born and raised in the Russian Federation. At the age of 12 he and his family moved to the United States for better economic and political freedom. Chirkov is an essayist and a frequent competitor in national and international writing tournaments. Now a junior at Trinity University, Nikita runs his own political analysis website NVC Reports.com and is the president of the College Republicans chapter in his university.