Over the past four years that I’ve been in college, I have had the privilege to learn about so many different concepts, people, ideas, etc. I have had awesome professors who have taught me to see different sides of issues and look at things objectively. While I’ve learned a lot in my classes, I have to say that most of the ideas and viewpoints I have adopted have been shaped by the knowledge I have received from those around me. College has given me the opportunity to meet so many different types of people with different backgrounds and ideologies. I am influenced every day by my peers. This has by far been my favorite thing about being a college student, and something that I think everyone should get the chance to experience.

Coming into college, most people have established some core values and ideas that they live their life by. Often, people are very passionate about these views, and this sometimes prevents them from being open to views that may differ from their own. While this level of passion is admirable, closing yourself off from new things is detrimental. It inhibits learning, stifles progress, and promotes ignorance. Now, there is nothing wrong with ignorance in itself. It is simply a state of not knowing or being uninformed. Most people are ignorant about a variety of things, and if you think you’re an exception, I’m sorry to tell you that you are not. I am willing to admit that I am ignorant about quite a few things, but I am always seeking more knowledge. Where ignorance becomes harmful is when you are unwilling to learn. So many people put their metaphorical blinders on and ignorantly go about their lives reluctant to receive any new information that does not align with what they believe. Some people even go so far as to judge and persecute others because of these differences in mindset.

When we see people exhibit hate against someone solely because the person is different from them, this can almost certainly be attributed to ignorance and/or being highly misinformed. Even though we have come so far, we still see so much hate towards the “other”. For example, our treatment of Muslims in this country. There is still such a strong sense of hate and distrust for these people, and it is exhibited far too often. I will bet that about 90 percent of the people that have these attitudes are incredibly ignorant about Islam and many of the cultures connected to it. I cannot tell you how many times I have witnessed people mistake being Muslim as an ethnic identification rather than a religious one. Most people also assume that being from a Middle Eastern country automatically makes you Muslim or that you have to have ancestry from that region to identify with Islam, which is also incorrect.

It’s amusing, actually, to see people react so passionately about something that they don’t have a clue about. But even more than how amusing it is, is how sad and discouraging it is. Just imagine how many stereotypes and negative attitudes could be debunked if everyone just made a conscientious effort to talk to those different from them.

So much can come from doing our own research and relying on our own experiences/interactions with other people. We can learn something from everyone around us. Even if someone’s views don’t agree with our own we can still learn from them. We might even learn enough to change our own views.