So Are You Open Minded or Not ~ TEEN TALK WITH ANA

By: Ana Montserrat DeBernardoJuly, 2015

Ana-Debernardo3Any well-mannered person living in the twenty-first century is acutely aware that when it comes to small talk, politics and religion are two topics that are strictly off-limits. When clashing opinions over these two subjects are shared, debate inevitably ensues even among the closest of friends. It could very well be said that a person’s political prejudices are made more or less obvious by their preferred media outlets or choice of political candidate. Unfortunately, even universities in this country are quickly becoming another popular give-away.

Colleges in the US range from hard-core conservative to vehemently-leftwing liberal. Regardless of a school’s location or even religious affiliation, most schools tend to identify with a specific political stance. Both students and faculty advocate for the need to have intellectual debate and being open to contrasting opinions, but in the end, everyone is left with a clear notion of which side is accepted and which will designate you as an outcast on campus.

The problem is that political biases may carry into the hiring process for professors, the nature of course material assigned in class, and the dogmatic way that instructors present the information to their students. Even subjects like math or science—which would seem to lie completely outside of the political realm—are being politicized by radicals. Another unfortunate result of the political networks that pervade the education system is the fact that the minority party is often simply labeled as “wrong”. The handful of conservative members on liberal campuses, and contrastingly, the few liberals at conservative institutions can even be looked down upon in their own field of work.

College should be a place to learn new things and develop new mindsets, but it shouldn’t be a brainwashing factory where professors manufacture cookie-cutter students through intimidation and social pressure. Students supporting the “underdog” causes shouldn’t feel isolated in environments where the opposing views are often popular among the majority of students and faculty. Institutions that are fueled by narrow, one-sided viewpoints are the enemy of debate, and democratic debate should be defended unabashedly.

People talk about a better world where debate is accepted and compromise is welcomed, yet when a defender speaks out against a certain cause, mockery and/or controversy from the opposing side is sure to follow. Our media and our society are becoming increasingly sensitive towards subjects that we should be able to debate freely, without the fear of being stigmatized if we give an unpopular answer. Many people today can’t speak freely without being burdened by the worry of saying something “politically incorrect” or offending a certain crowd of critics. Everyday we are seeing more and more headlines appearing to criticize people as racist, too feminist, or too religious.

In all honesty, does it really matter? If someone says something that upsets you, or God forbid, that you don’t necessarily agree with, why should you let it affect you? If you know you won’t be shaken in your own beliefs, why let the opinions of others bother you? Genuine intellectuals tend to be open to all the viewpoints and opinions made available to them. Claim to be one? Then you should stand by this statement.