As the political climate in our country continues to spiral towards what seems like a never-ending abyss of a two-party controversy, students have naturally become more active in voicing their opinions on popular issues. Witnessing such participation among my peers makes me proud to be a part of this generation. However, as we become more involved in advocating for our views, it is vital to remember the respect we should have for each other when engaging in political discussions.
Though this is something that we may all struggle to do as we become more passionate about our beliefs, without this reminder, we will become more susceptible to being blinded by our own biases and preconceived notions of others.
One aspect of political participation in this decade that differs from all others in history is the large presence of social media in our daily lives. Celebrities, politicians and students take to various media platforms to assert their beliefs and inspire others to do so as well (see C2, C5, B4).
However, whether it be through a 140-character tweet or a face-to-face conversation, we must be mindful of the words we choose to express ourselves. They may offend and potentially silence others, which would defeat the entire purpose of utilizing our platforms to spark debate and conversation about important topics. Especially when living in our outspoken, predominantly liberal community, it is dangerous to assume that all students share similar political views.
We often forget that people have different and unique experiences that serve as reasons behind whatever views they choose to support. Instead of being swept away by fiery arguments, we should try to understand why people think the way they do while respectfully asserting our own voice.
For example, although the students who participated in the 2017 Berkeley protests had initiated the event in order to voice their opinions against a conservative school speaker, it resulted in 20 arrests and 11 injuries. What was supposed to be a peaceful demonstration became a hostile interaction, endangering the safety of student participants and witnesses. With that said, we must strive to strike a balance between listening to others and personalizing every issue.
Though listening to what others have to say is an essential part of healthy discussions, when we begin to take every side comment or response to heart, the deep, irreconcilable divide between the two parties will increase even further. Sometimes, not being offended by every minuscule statement and turning a blind eye will encourage more civil conversations.
I hope that this politically polarized country and our divided generation will not prevent us from befriending and getting to know each other beyond our political views, but will instead lead to respectful discussions that aim to create a better world.
I hope that the next time we march, walk out, write, protest or post, we will remember that it is okay to disagree and embrace our differences.