COLUMN: Time to fly: Learning to defend personal beliefs will go a long way
Published: Friday, September 14, 2012
Updated: Friday, September 14, 2012 03:09
The past few weeks have been a bit contentious in my house.
With the approaching election, many of the housemates have divided themselves along party lines, with political discussions and disagreements carrying on over days at a time via text, Facebook and good, old-fashioned face-to-face arguments.
This is not a complaint, but rather a realization that we truly are growing in some capacity here during our college years. By the end of our time in school, we will consider ourselves to be educated adults and expected to make responsible and valuable contributions to society. Well, even if we don’t expect ourselves to act accountably, others certainly will.
That is why I have taken a special interest in these conversations — we are trying to have mature discussions because, after all, we are here to become adults.
This time in early adulthood is somewhat of a gray area in terms of expectations. Elders still view our generation as youngsters figuring out life. But children look up to us as if we are truly grown up. So what does that mean about how we should view each other and ourselves?
Oftentimes, people are more defensive of our beliefs at our age, while they are still formulating opinions, than they will be as they mature and understand their views better. The first instinct when we disagree is to defend one’s own side of the argument and attack the opponent. That is not always the best way to approach such a situation, though.
Before digging in your heels, I believe it is important to understand both sides of the coin. Many of us grew up in biased households and are just now learning how to think politically on our own. I will undoubtedly maintain some of the views with which I was brought up, but as I distance myself from my childhood, I gain more ability to think for myself. It is beneficial to exercise that.
I don’t mean that everyone should rebel from what their parents told them as youngsters — that is what many of us did in high school, and it didn’t really get us anywhere (other than grounded at home). It is imperative, however, to learn how to think critically about issues without whispering to a friend or relative for the correct answer.
In this season of propaganda and often baseless political ads, I am impressed at the amount of discussion around my house and on campus. We can’t know how firmly we hold views until they are tested by others and by ourselves.
When it is time for baby birds to learn to fly, the mother leaves the nest for a nearby location and calls to her babies. They must gain the courage to either fly to safety or fall trying. Now is our time to learn, and I don’t see any wings. My suggestion: Start flapping your gums and see where they get you.
— Michael Nowels is a junior elementary education major and a weekly columnist for The Mirror.