Dana Panczenko
Staff Columnist

When I first started writing for The Elm, I had one goal. It was never to make MVP, to have my articles featured on the cover, or to even get that coveted left-page-above-the-fold spot. No, when I started writing, I had one thing in mind: I wanted hate mail. Lots of it. I wanted to get a visceral reaction out of readers. I wanted to make someone so angry that their only recourse would be to tell me that I was wrong, and shatter my argument to bits. I wanted to drag readers out of apathy and make them so livid that they would find me and try to publicly shame me by sending in letters. Of all my goals in life, this one, on the surface, may seem to make the least amount of sense, if any at all. People like to be liked. People like to feel welcomed. In writing for The Elm, I wanted neither. I wanted to be influential. I wanted to light a fire under people. I wanted to inspire thought and action, even if that meant being hated. I wanted to make people think and have them get angry enough to do something about it. In that case, with my track record of zero letters to the editor, I have failed to achieve the one goal I set for myself in writing for The Elm.

It is not for lack of trying that I failed. I started out strong, really trying to incite something. I wrote about abortion, the Catholic Church’s role in the birth control debate, gay marriage, the Steubenville rape case, literally every major controversial topic I could muster, all to be met with crickets, nada, nothing. Well, nothing on paper. I heard people talking sometimes, or people would come up to me or text me about the articles, but nothing was ever written formally. Nothing was ever submitted. Regardless of how controversial the topic, or how “out there” my opinion was, nobody cared enough to write any sort of response.

If there is one thing I can leave with The Elm, it is not some convoluted story meant to incite shame or rage or disappointment in the reader. I still want to light a fire here. This time, though, I am not trying to make anyone angry. Instead, I want to inspire a way of life and thinking. I want every person who reads this to stand behind their opinions. I do not want the people who read this article to simply whisper their complaints or concerns or praises. Instead I want them to care enough and be confident enough to share them with the world. Even if those opinions are unpopular, or go directly against what others may think, I want readers to be proud of what they believe, as long as it comes from a place of (well supported) sincerity.

I hope that the people who read The Elm are inspired to write, and think, and research. I hope that, somewhere along the line, one of my articles got someone to think. I have no way of knowing if my work influenced anyone, if it inspired thought, or even if any of my articles ended up being read by someone other than my editor. Even though I never met my goal of being hated and getting letters telling me so, the goal that inspired that one remains unchanged: I hope that somewhere along the line, I can inspire passion in people. I hope that there is passion in you, the reader of this article, and I beg you to share it with the world, or anyone who will listen.

Goodbye, and thank you for reading.

The Elm

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