“Words and Ideas Can Change The World”

No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world. –  Mr. John Keating, Dead Poets Society

Today the Internet is filled with quotes made famous by the late Robin Williams—a comedic genius who touched the lives of so many people and connected generations with his work.

As a “90’s baby,” I can remember hearing his voice in Aladdin and seeing his crazy character in Flubber. Then of course there is the hysterical, yet heartwarming classic Mrs. Doubtfire.

Robin Williams obviously had multiple films aside from these three that I enjoyed after my childhood, but none I enjoyed more than Dead Poets Society.

I never even would have watched this movie had it not been for my high school English teacher. If you’ve seen the film, it’s obvious as to why you’d show it in an English class setting. Not only does Dead Poets Society inspire you to pursue your passions, whether it be writing, music, science, etc. However, it inspires you to express yourself unapologetically because that is the time when you truly are living.

I read and write as often as I can. Now the amount of time I spend reading for pleasure is far less than I should, but hey what can you do when life gets a little bit too hectic.

Our hectic lives, though, are exactly why the arts are so important. They give us a chance to express our feelings—the tough moments we experience, as well as the happy moments.

I know for a fact that words and ideas can change the world. At the very least, they’ve changed my world.

Finding words that connect to your life can be a therapeutic experience. A quote from another person, movie, or piece of literature can pinpoint exactly what you’re feeling, The same goes for musical lyrics. At any given moment, I stumble upon quotes that not only resonate in my life, but ones that just make me smile, laugh and think. It’s amazing how a string of words on a piece of paper can leave an impact.

In a boarding school built on conformity, the boys in Dead Poets Society are essentially trapped. They live in America, land of the free. Their first amendment gives them freedom of speech and expression, yet here these young boys are unable to express their thoughts, their true desires in life because they are not given the chance.

And that’s when I realized how lucky I am. Sure the current definition of Freedom of Speech has its limitations (e.g. the need to be politically correct in our generation…).

Yet here I am putting words down and writing my thoughts–publishing my thoughts for others to see. And why? Because I have been lucky enough to grow up in an environment where I am encouraged to define my own path. My family knows I love to write, my professors and mentors all know I love to write. Therefore, they encourage me to do so. I don’t know exactly what I want my career to involve, but I am encouraged to learn about different industries and find what it is I do love—to find the career that allows me to live my life to the fullest and seize every day.

Dead Poets Society is one movie that I recommend everyone to see at least once in your life. No it’s not my usual romantic comedy. It’s something much more important. This movie proves how our happiness is dependent on our choices. We can choose to live the life we are meant for-to “seize the day.” Or we can take the path of conformity and mold ourselves into a life that others want us to live.

After defining conformity as the “difficulty in maintaining your own beliefs in the face of others,” Mr. John Keating (Robin Williams) states:

you must trust that your beliefs are unique your own even though others may think them odd or unpopular.”

I believe this whole-heartedly. Everyone is unique and has an individual personality. I have my own thoughts and opinions and am very strong in defending my beliefs. I believe in my future because I have been given the freedom to define it for myself—to plan a life that fulfills my own desires and passions.

Through his film, Robin Williams taught me “Carpe Diem”—seize the day. His life was tragically cut too short, but his legacy lives on through all the happiness he brought to his audience with his art.

And with that, I thank you Robin Williams for the laughs and tears and the inspiration to live with passion. Rest in Peace.

-Rachel

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