An open mind is necessary for progress

Winter Keefer

With the impending election right around the corner, we have probably all heard the question, “How did we end up in this situation?” Those who ask this seem to have a response already formulated in their mind. It’s obvious, right? Clearly it is the fault of either the Republicans, the Democrats or stupid people.

However, this kind of conclusion is the actual problem we must overcome.

When approaching issues of society, it is easy to think that the woes of the world are someone else’s fault. We can #RANT about every disagreement we have, every injustice encountered and pick apart the foundation of every system set in place for society.

While it is important to have these conversations, the actual dialogue is many times lost behind a screen or behind the idea that an opposing view isn’t even worth our time. The loss of actual conversation between different groups is where core issues become toxic.

One of my greatest fears for the world is that, one day, actual discussion could be lost and completely thrown out as an abstract concept, both sides of an issue divided by a wall built between what we think of as wrong compared to the obvious right. In this world, social media pages are where all discussion is held, but the targets of your #RANTs are only those who agree with them.

Those who disagree are unfriended and ostracized because what they say shouldn’t matter if it is, again, the obvious wrong view. Everything is reactionary. An event occurs and, before any research can be done, a side must be chosen.

Education is key to preventing this very possible and terrifying future. But when I say education, I don’t mean education with the purpose of only finding reaffirmation that one’s initial reaction is the absolute right one. I mean education through the search for an opposing view and the process of actively listening to it.

One can never be totally unbiased and informed if all takes on a subject are not considered. Headlines often incite reaction almost instantaneously. We all have these reactions, but conversations are what actually influence change.

The place where society is now is not the “fault” of any one person or group. It is the result of the whole, the aggregate of the growing diversity of a rapidly changing world. In this way, division is good. The increase in civil rights and human activism has been such an important and revolutionary stride toward a more wholesome society.

What we have to watch out for is the manifestation of strictly reactionary responses to issues over real conversation.
Listen, headlines will come and go. Most events that seem Earth-shattering now will be forgotten by a majority of people this time next year.

But, how we have the discussion about what happens now will always matter. Being willing and able to hold a conversation or respectful debate with an opposing side will carry an impact, whether or not it is an obvious one. The bottom line is, once the conversation is lost, you have lost. There is no coming back from erecting an impermeable wall against any other view than your own.