An Opinion on Opinions
by Aeshna Chandra on Friday, February 20th, 2015
Some Milton students are aware of what is happening in the world. Unfortunately, many are not. These students see the world through social media and campus trends, moving from one topic to another without completely internalizing either. In light of this past year’s events—on and off campus—all students have become more aware of the duty they have as members of this community and others to generate discussion not only with small groups but also with the entire school. In order to facilitate beneficial discussion, the student body and faculty have a responsibility to discuss issues that do not only pertain to the Milton community but also offer insight into the experiences of other individuals around the globe. So, how does one both spark and maintain conversation around controversial issues in an effective and positive way? To begin to answer this question we must delve deeper into what the subject matter of a conversation means on a personal level.
This fall, students brought the Black Lives Matter campaign to the halls of Milton. Students and faculty brought passion and energy to the project in the form of lively debates, protests, performing and visual arts projects. This campaign, on Milton’s campus and around the country, would not exist without the heart and commitment of those who hold strong opinions on the issue. Just as important are the opinions of those who oppose some aspects of the campaign, as there would be no controversy and, consequently, no conversation or campaign without it. A good conversation cannot be had with oneself. In high school, arguably a place full of crucial moments of self-discovery, it is important that individuals respect both conceding and opposing viewpoints. Unfortunately, respect is often a concept thought of as synonymous with agreement, agreement in turn a term associated with defeat. In the competitive environment we find ourselves in as Milton students, many constantly search for a winner and a loser in a conversation. It is possible to win a debate, right? An argument can be won, and an argument can be lost, can’t it? Milton students often seem perplexed by the idea that a conversation, in contrast, cannot be won. There are no winners or losers in a conversation. We would argue that if a loser must be defined, the term can be awarded to those who do not participate.
It has been refreshing and rewarding to find our campus so filled with passion on a subject so in tune with our surrounding community. Whether it be through the Black Lives Matter Campaign itself or through promoting the general notion of freedom of expression, individuals all over campus have found ways to involve themselves. There is, however, a fine line between furthering discussion and soliciting response. As we said before, opinions cannot be forced. The “obligation” one has to share an opinion should allow for thought-provoking results. Although opinions can often rightfully be presented controversially, when presentation does not allow for concession of other possible opinions, it can serve only to divide students into competing groups. Perhaps this division is an effective way to break the Milton bubble for many. However, at a time when we are all exploring our own identities, it is crucial that we maintain a sense of respect in this community. In order to feel comfortable enough to continue conversation, it is essential to promote the feeling of protection respect provides. Foundationless claims designed to instigate and respond give unwanted flare to an issue and detract from the fundamental purpose: to inform and inspire an up-and-coming generation. If this community wants to discuss, it must support all those who step forward with honest opinions to speak.
Moving forward, Milton students should be proud of themselves for instigating such conversations, but they should also realize that there are many more discussions to be had. While we focus so intently on the conversation presented to us, we must keep in mind these issues in the context of the world around us. Take the loaded topic of racism that students confront on an almost daily basis. We often focus on the black-and-white dynamic of racism that has been so prevalent in American history; however, when we discuss racism today, in this multiethnic, multiracial country, we cannot ignore all the other people and groups who play into the discussion.
Though we have addressed the Black Lives Matter campaign with passion, whether passion critical of the campaign or completely in support of it, we have not as a community mentioned the Muslim Lives Matter campaign. We have not discussed police brutality in relation to the visiting Indian grandfather who was beaten to paralysis by an officer in Alabama. We have not discussed the cold-blooded murder of three Muslim students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
While it is again up to both students and faculty to bring this conversation to campus, each of us also holds a responsibility to realize that this conversation has already been started: it does not start or end with the boundaries of Milton’s campus.
Short URL: http://miltonmeasure.org/?p=6878