It is no secret that I am not a liberal; I obviously write viewpoints for this newspaper, I walk around in a Bruce Rauner shirt and I’m the treasurer of the Conservatives Club. Yet, sometimes when I walk around this campus, I feel as if I am making enemies, simply because of what I believe – or, rather, what people assume I believe simply because I go by the label of “conservative.” Yes, I’m a capitalist; I’m a Catholic; I vote Republican – but so what? I’m doing all those things on a liberal arts campus – I must be open-minded enough to come to a school like this, so why can’t my beliefs be respected as much as anyone else’s?
It is shocking to me that, on a campus that considers itself to be the haven of free-thinkers, people will refuse to make eye contact with someone with beliefs that differ from theirs. Instead of welcoming the idea of an open discussion, people will judge another and demote his or her intelligence. It was brought to my attention last week that people “considered unfriending me” on social media because of something I had posted about the elections. Wait, where am I again? Not that I was offended by the pettiness of that statement; I was simply surprised that it was deemed acceptable for everyone who disagreed with me to post their opinions online, but once I tried to do the same, I was slighted and disrespected. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t feel like a victim of anything. I feel very concerned for our generation if they can’t read a few tweets or a Facebook post with differing political opinions than their own without throwing a fit or changing their opinion of the person who posted them, regardless of that person’s character.
If Americans cannot tolerate and understand each other’s viewpoints, how are we ever supposed to get anything accomplished in the real world? People are always going to disagree with you – you cannot hate them all. No person should ever feel as if their opinion is not valid, especially on a liberal campus. Discussions about opinions (all opinions – ranging from politics to religion to television shows) should always be respectful. It’s common courtesy to be polite, and a different opinion does not warrant rude behavior.
So on Knox’s campus, do we see much of that? Do we see meaningful discussions between people who have opinions that differ from each other? What I would like to see on this campus is more of that. Instead of jumping on someone with your opinion after he or she has shared his or hers, ask that person why he or she feels that way or has that opinion. Most of the time, opinions are all about perspective – and how can one have an educated opinion without knowing all sides and then thinking for oneself? You don’t have to like my opinions, let alone agree with them, but at least have the decency to respect what others have to say; that should be common knowledge.