Creating an atmosphere of inclusion is hard when it comes to political ideologies on college campuses. Concordia College is characteristically liberal, like most other post-secondary institutions in the United States. When it comes to class discussions on potentially divided issues, usually only one side is rationalized as being the right way of thinking, while the other side is merely mentioned as being different and potentially unfounded. With no one in the room courageous enough to speak up and defend the “different” point of view, that way of thinking is usually left at the wayside and not thoroughly discussed.
If you couldn’t tell already, I am talking about the conservative viewpoint. Time and time again conservative ideologies have been looked at inside classrooms on Concordia’s campus as being different and unsupported with evidence (especially in the science and religion departments). While our views may be different, I can assure you that we’ve come to our conclusions on issues not only because of evidence presented to us, but because we also believe it in our hearts to be the right way of thinking (which is the same reasoning progressives usually give). Having our classrooms be an echo chamber for liberal ideologies is doing a disservice to the young people of America. It is said that in order for you to successfully argue your point of view, you have to know your opponent’s point of view well enough to argue against your own. This statement is not often taken into account when talking about opposing viewpoints within the classrooms of Concordia. We’re simply told that this is the generally accepted way to think, here’s the other way some people think, and if we find some evidence that the other way of thinking is in the slightest the right way of thinking, it’s biased and we should have found an unbiased article to support our argument (according to the professor’s biased viewpoint of liberalism).
To be fair, there are a number of professors at Concordia who do care about having informed discussions on hot-button topics that highlight both sides of the issues. During these discussions both sides are looked at in depth, analyzed for their foundational reasoning, and articulated thoroughly. I am so appreciative of these select professors for their courage to push for equal representation of ideals in the classroom setting.
Most conservatives on campus are afraid to speak up. They know they’re sorely outnumbered in every classroom setting. This fact deters their ambitions to stand up for themselves and their beliefs when it’s necessary to do so. I would argue the sheer fact that liberals usually jump down the throats of any conservatives who speak up for themselves on topics ranging from abortion to second amendment rights is why they keep silent most of the time. By the phrase “jumping down their throats” I mean that they either put them down, say that it is unwise to believe such biased information, or aggressively discredit their opinions and beliefs. Even if this doesn’t happen, they’re labeled as “that crazy conservative” for speaking up, gossiped about, avoided, and put down. This does not sound like tolerance to me one bit.
However, there is a silver lining to all of this hatred going around. I have had conversations with multiple liberals on campus, both men and women, who see the intolerance of conservative ideas as heartbreaking. These civilized chats revolve around their beliefs, my beliefs, and why we hold these beliefs. My rationalization is usually founded in my faith, and their rationalization is usually founded in equality for all (this is an oversimplification, I am aware, but hear me out). We acknowledge each other’s reasoning as valid, do not get upset, and move on with our lives more educated about the other’s beliefs than when we began. This is the key to having civilized conversations between liberals and conservatives: accept the fact that both opinions are valid, don’t impose your beliefs onto them, and don’t call them deplorable.
Ronald Reagan, the great communicator, was our last great conservative President. He brought our nation together during a time when we were scared out of our wits because of the Soviet Union. Upon his re-election, he won 49 out of 50 states against Democrat Walter Mondale. His forwardness about the facts, dedication to instilling a sense of responsibility in the hearts and minds of the American people, and his ever-present fight for freedom in every aspect of our lives, made him one of the greatest Presidents that ever lived, and he was a conservative. He believed that if he conveyed as much unbiased information about current events through presidential addresses as he could, and not through the biased filter of the media, that the American people would make the right decision every time.
Ronald Reagan also believed that “All great change in America begins at the dinner table.” In this statement, he was specifically referencing children influencing their parents to educate them better on important issues in today’s society. I argue that this statement could easily pertain to college students. We need to be agents of change in our world, and it all starts in classrooms, dorms, and dining centers. If we don’t make an effort to educate ourselves on both sides of the issues that affect a great number of people in the world, we risk growing up to be uneducated, biased people who have a deep aversion to anything that does not confirm the beliefs we hold dear and true.
This is my challenge to you. If your professor doesn’t fully cover all sides of a topic, go and educate yourself about it either by searching it on the internet or by talking to your peers. If your classroom suddenly becomes an echo chamber of liberal ideologies (this is hard to spot from a liberal’s perspective), speak up and say what’s on your mind. If your friends all believe that abortion is a women’s rights issue, ask them to consider the other side of the argument, that life begins at conception, and any attempt to end that life after conception is murder. It is on us to speak up, educate ourselves, and consider all sides of an issue.
The above issues are mere starting points for us to become more responsibly engaged in the world. The way of looking at issues described above is much more applicable to living a well-rounded life than any accounting or biology class would teach us. As our generation grows up to become the leaders of this world, we need to be educated on all the sides of major issues in order to make the most informed decision we can. Once we’re thoroughly informed and educated, then we can proceed to make America great again.