The most troubling trends I see, both among college students and among the citizens of our nation, is the increasing degree to which people are terrified of taking a stand on issues they believe in. Students are terrified about voicing their opinions in a public forum, and risking their reputations for their beliefs, all out of the irrational fear that they may offend someone.
Even though Americans have always placed a high value on superficial acts of ?niceness? and public displays of etiquette, we have always been passionate about taking sides in America?s great political debates. Yet, today, many Americans, long subjected to the barrage of rhetoric from those demanding political correctness, have become rather timid and unwilling to express their beliefs and opinions.
They fear that people may not like them, may call them names, and may think that they are ?not nice? for making others feel uncomfortable.
As a result, we pratice self-censorship and rob ourselves of our first amendment duty to speak. This timidity of our generation also extends to colleges, including our own.
Many students in our school shy from discussions on controversial, yet important issues because they are terrified that they may offend, anger or upset others. This prevents an open campus dialogue and debate.
What?s so upsetting about this is that college campuses have traditionally been the places where such issues have first been debated, tried and tested. Colleges have traditionally been places where students grapple with the important ideas and issues of the day, within the context of a supportive and nurturing academic environment. Much of this has changed.
It seems that many of our peers here in college are going soft and are more concerned with living the life of ease, leisure and excessive materialism than with living the strenuous life of duty, toil, and action in the arena of political thought. What?s most surprising is that this trend has infected not only the student population in general, but has affected almost all of our leaders in Students? Association government.
When I served on our SA Senate, for example, I saw a plethora of examples of political cowardice and timidity. I know Senators who are staunchly against reverse discrimination and racial double standards on our campus, but are absolutely afraid of saying it in public because they fear upsetting others, and even worse, unjustly being labeled a racist.
Sure, they were willing to openly discuss the overused and stale issues of meal plans, programming, ?communication? and that ever-elusive enigma, ?school spirit.? Yet they have, for as long as I have remembered, been absolutely terrified of taking a meaningful, thoughtful or serious position on any serious campus political issue of substance, and if they do happen to see a pressing issue, it is only discussed superficially.
Rarely do they discuss tuition hikes, quality of academics, or even whether members of hate groups should get a discount to appear on campus. This is mostly done by the Campus Times and the UR Messenger.
In fact, none of the members of student government who are now campaigning for President ever publically said that they disagreed with Farrakhan.
I would hope that at least one of them has a problem with this man and his beliefs.
If our generation and our leaders want to change and have as much of an impact on the world as that of our forefathers, they would do well to follow the words of Theodore Roosevelt.
?Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much, nor live much, in that gray twilight which knows neither victory nor defeat.?
Perhaps then, and only then, will we wake up from our sad slumber of indifference, materialism and apathy.