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The Milton Measure

Hearing the Opposite Side: Not Easy, But Definitely Necessary

by on Thursday, March 9th, 2017

In one of The Measure’s latest issues, the editorial discussed our board’s thoughts on Milton’s affective education program. A poll revealed that a majority of Milton students feel the courses fail to offer safe spaces to students. Fearing judgment from peers, students would rather sit quietly than speak their minds, perhaps in the hopes of avoiding embarrassment. And so, the student body ends up reflecting on one side of every argument, instead of on a diversity of positions.

This year, considering 2016’s dramatic election cycle, affective ed and academic classes alike have focused on political topics. With the election of Donald Trump, many Milton students have been forced to confront and are still processing harsh and frightening changes. It is only natural that these members of the community should voice their concerns and dread for the future.

But when the attitude of a room is sad and particularly sensitive, is it possible to voice optimism without seeming disrespectful? For many Milton students, the answer is no. Students keep their mouths shut during affective ed-type discussions, fearing the repercussions of their own words. And while hearing opposing opinions is usually upsetting, shouldn’t we want to listen and try to understand them anyway?

You’ve heard this all before. In Milton’s predominantly liberal environment, conservative voices become all too easy to stifle or shame. But consider this: what price do we pay for always hearing one position in every controversy? If we are only ever exposed to one set of opinions, can we really be sure that ours are the “right” ones? Every time we shut down conflicting views, we starve ourselves of our own education, political or otherwise.

As high schoolers, our voices have more power than we know. We have amazing influence over our peers and their developing minds. The political climate at Milton has certainly affected my perspectives. In the past four years, I have become passionate about social issues and women’s issues, and I attribute this developing interest heavily to Milton’s liberal environment.

But I’ve often wondered: had I spent the last four years surrounded by an outspoken, educated conservative majority, would my opinions be different? I expect that Milton’s leftness has influenced me especially because I do not encounter Republican views on the same level. Spending most of my time at Milton Academy, it makes sense that I would be convinced by its widespread positions.

So while the predominance of liberal voices at Milton is not a bad thing, the resulting one-sidedness needs to be addressed. As students and humans, we are easily impacted by the voices around us. When we expose ourselves to only the same type of opinions, it is easy to become close minded and overconfident. Most of us probably felt this effect first hand, waking up on November 5th to discover Donald Trump was the President-elect.

We owe it to ourselves and our peers to hear everyone’s views. Ignoring the opinions we don’t like only impedes our learning and our ability to form informed perspectives. During this politically charged school year, The Measure has struggled to offer non-liberal stances to the community. No one benefits from the fact that the only channel through which we have been able to supply conservative views is anonymous surveys.

None of Milton’s passionate voices should be silenced, and all students should feel comfortable sharing, questioning, and debating their beliefs. I think that Jack Weiler (II), Jack Robinson (II), and Jimmy DeLano (II) have started towards this goal by establishing an avenue for students to discuss and debate difficult and multifaceted topics in their club IPIC (look at the article on page 3).

I hope that all members of the Milton community take time to encourage new and opposing perspectives, even when they are upsetting to our own. We need diversity of opinions to achieve the well-rounded education Milton advertises. We need to realize the power of our words over our peers and use them respectfully to everyone’s advantage. Because, really, if we all share the same unchallenged opinions, how will we ever learn to defend them?


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Posted by on Mar 9 2017. Filed under More Opinion, Opinion, Recent Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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