THE SANTA CLARA
April 7, 2016
The moment shame and fear stifle important conversation, we have a problem. Asking people to be open to each other’s questions and thoughts is not unrealistic, it is a simple call for decency and respect.
At our university some classes require students to write opinion editorials. I reached out to some of these classes excited to receive articles, but ended up with an empty inbox.
Finally, students sent in articles, but with the hope of them being published anonymously.
Publishing anonymous opinions is contrary to the spirit of open dialogue, so I had to kindly decline their request.
Brilliant students stay silent too often due to fear of external judgements. People choose not to be vulnerable because they don’t want to be beaten down for their thoughts–right or wrong, polished or scattered, developed or fleeting.
The less people share their ideas, the more dangerous our campus—our world—becomes.
But this fear of judgement is understandable. Sharing your words with others allows those people to know your most intimate thoughts; you are left vulnerable.
Letting someone into your world can be wildly intimidating, especially when people are unwilling to consider ideas other than their own.
Empathy takes courage, and it is about time that people become courageous.
Encouraging each other to speak out, even when it seems risky, is the most powerful thing we can do as fellow students.
We don’t always have to be right nor should we have fixed mindsets. Human beings are malleable.
Individual beliefs, thoughts and understandings are constantly changing, yet many act as though others are not allowed to change as well.
A space for people to share their uncensored selves is necessary for growth in Santa Clara’s community.
If we claim there is safe space for students to speak out in, then why do so many still stay quiet? Our judgments of others ultimately inhibit safe spaces and perpetuate silence.
A safe space is a place where people can honestly speak and willingly learn about topics they may not know a lot about, but wish to know more.
In a safe space, people are invited to educate others in a wholesome and inviting manner.
In a safe space there is no room for arrogant judgements and unnecessary insults.
By no means am I suggesting that this be a community where there are no filters.
Words have implications, of course, but after careful thought and consideration, I urge us to foster a community that does not hold back out of fear of judgement and being wrong.
I encourage a community of constant communication and a willingness to be vulnerable, that is, to open ourselves to possibly uncomfortable conversations.
In discussing the idea of culture and awareness of other’s differences, we must begin to understand the necessity of acceptance, both externally and internally.
Psychologist and author, Brené Brown said, “true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”
Our desire to understand ourselves and others on a deeper level must trump our desire to be a part of the popular group.
If more people shared their ideas, we wouldn’t fear rejection so heavily and we would actually be more inclined to teach each other.
Asking the unpopular questions and sparking discussion for the acquisition of knowledge is the vulnerable thing to do.
So perhaps we should redefine the word vulnerable and associate a positive connotation with the word rather than a negative one. To be vulnerable is to be fearless, even heroic.
By no means have I made the most perfect of decisions in everything I have chosen to do and say. But, I will continue to learn from my mistakes and rejoice in my accomplishments; I’m ready to post something potentially risky, and unapologetically ask questions that may make me seem naïve.
A willingness to change fixed beliefs will always lead to valuable growth. Share your opinions, but only with the promise of listening to others.
Opposing opinions spark interest; they allow for rich discussion and hopefully a more accepting community and university. Let’s not eliminate that possibility.
Lindsey Mandell is a sophomore English and psychology major and is editor of the Opinion Section.