Words and Language
My first car, you could say, was a vehicle for self-expression. I was seventeen, and it was a white 1992 Nissan Sentra, an androgynous looking car that I named Andy. Most seventeen-year-olds have an exaggerated sense of connection between their cars and their identities, and I was no exception. To my father's dismay, within weeks of purchasing the car, I had plastered the entire rear end with bumper stickers.
Although I like to think I've changed and grown since then, the only sticker I no longer agree with is the one that said, "If it's too loud, you're too old." The rest are still reflections of what I stand for. Take, for example, the one that said, "Eschew obfuscation." You might think it's a joke, which it is, but it's also a statement of the value I place on good, clear writing. Actually, I have a passion for grammar and even have a favourite punctuation mark (the semicolon). I can quote passages from The Elements of Style . I can't read without editing, mentally striking out unnecessary words and re-arranging phrases. One of the most important talents that a person in any field can posses is the ability to make complex ideas understandable, and this requires straightforward and succinct writing. This ability is especially necessary in law, where there is an unfortunate prevalence of words like "hitherto" and "aforementioned."
The sticker that read, "Those who ignore nature are bound to deplete it". expressed my commitment to environmental issues. My experience working at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change for the last year has solidified that commitment; perhaps more important, the serious and professional attitude of the Pew Center has shown me the kind of approach I want to take toward environmental issues. Environmentalists often have problems relating to other people whose primary concern is not the environment, and this impedes the success of the movement. To be taken seriously, environmentalists need to move away from their image as a bunch of technophobic, econophobic tree-huggers with pink hair and facial piercings. Law will allow me to take the kind of practical, professional approach that the movement often lacks. The movement needs people who understand environmental laws, who can make them understandable to the public, and who will work to improve them. Taking my strengths into account, [law] is the career that will offer me the best opportunities to effect changes in the field.
Women's issues is another area in which law would allow me to take a pragmatic approach. Feminism has gotten a bad reputation. I first realized this when the sticker "Feminism is the radical notion that women are people" was torn off my car. The first time it happened, I called my bumper-sticker company to order a replacement. They sent me three extras, in case it disappeared again. Every time somebody ripped it off, I put another one back on. I wasn't going to let the unpopularity of the movement discourage me. When I got to college, I tried to join the campus feminist magazine. The staff, however, decided that our first feature article should be on the history of the vibrator, and I couldn't see how that was going to win over any of the undecideds. I have always preferred a constructive approach to one that merely draws attention. Articles like that will "empower" a small percentage of people, but it will alienate the rest. To make progress, we need to dedicate ourselves to serious issues that affect women. Not only that, but we need people who are positioned to make changes. Among other things, women's causes can use good advocates in the law.
I wrecked the car two days before I was to leave for college, and we had to sell it to a salvager. Though I was dismayed at the time, it strikes me now that the crash marks an important change for me. High school is a time for figuring out what you think of the world and announcing it. In college and at work, I shifted from identifying and proclaiming to doing. I hope law school and beyond will be a time for more development and more action. Because after all, as my favorite bumper sticker says, "Actions speak louder than bumper stickers."