I'm Not Afraid To Be A Conservative In College

I'm Not Afraid To Be A Conservative In College

I am not scared to encounter disagreement; I am prepared to embrace it.

What do you think of when you hear the word "conservative"? Do you envision an eighteen-year-old, female, future college student? Most people do not.

Whenever I tell people, "I am a conservative", the stereotype of a middle-aged, white man with a Bible in one hand and a gun in the other fades before their eyes. Of course, such a statement is now considered an audacious one. As a result, I have experienced whispers of gossip, harsh glares, and immediate jeers after identifying as such.

But that does not make me frustrated or fearful for the next chapter of my life: college. These four years will truly be unlike anything I have ever known, and I could not be more ready for what is to come.

For my entire life, I have been educated in extremely conservative, Catholic-affiliated schools. While I have grown tremendously in my religious faith, I have been minimally exposed to those from diverse backgrounds and perspectives.

Within my high school, the majority of my classmates were very similar to me. We were all from similar backgrounds with similar families sharing similar values, and therefore similar political stances. Yet, most of them were, as I like to say, "blindly Republican". Reiterating their parent's outbursts at the TV during last night's Fox News report, their remarks, made in various settings including but not limited to the classroom or the hallways, not only had barely any intellectual rationale but also were delivered without any independent research. These comments bred a sense of fear, insensitivity, and hatred amongst the minority of liberal students-the wrong message to showcase to anyone who opposes your political views.

There were few liberals who bravely spoke out against the consensus; however, they were often shut off from further discussion. Occasionally, their oppositions were heard. Yet, instead of creating a "learning experience" for both sides, proper debate etiquette was simply ignored.

My first introduction to such debate was in my junior year of high school when I traveled to the Holy Land on an interfaith pilgrimage alongside Jewish and Catholic teenagers. For the first time in my life, I had to defend not only my religious beliefs but also my political opinions to an audience which thought radically different from me. Instead of shutting down these discussions, I was intrigued by the different perspectives--the art of debate. I attempted to articulate my beliefs and my reasoning behind them, but like any seventeen-year-old, I did not know much.

Aside from my lack of facts or research, I did know a few things. I knew that would not be the last time my opinions would be questioned. I knew my conservative, Catholic "bubble" would burst once I arrived on a college campus. I knew the tables would certainly turn, and I knew my opinions would soon become the minority.

I was given a preview of this reality during a pre-orientation event last month. On the first night, a casual conversation between my assigned roommate and I gradually transformed into a full-on political discussion. We stayed up for a majority of the night discussing a multitude of social issues, ranging from abortion to immigration, continuously disagreeing with each other.

Although there was plenty of dissent visible throughout our entire discussion, we shared a common virtue: respect. We equally listened to the other, refraining from any interruption or distractions. We were both dedicated to the conversation, interested more in understanding the other rather than refreshing our social media accounts. Our political dialogue ended at an "agree to disagree" stalemate at approximately three o'clock in the morning. And like a majority of political discussions, we fell asleep that night without the slightest change of our pre-established opinions.

Once I returned home, I acknowledged that there were many of these types of discussions to come. But next time, it probably won't be one-on-one. Instead, a large group, maybe even the entire class might disagree with me, including the professor. But I am not scared to encounter disagreement; I am prepared to embrace it.

There will be plenty bumps along the road, I'm sure. No matter what, some people-on both sides- will always be quick to judge, to stereotype. to generalize. I guess being a conservative automatically comes with elementary-school bullies who will constantly frame you as a sexist (even though I'm a woman), racist, or homophobe without a glimpse of factual support. There will be many people I meet who will pretend like they don't know me once they find out my political opinions. They will threaten to unfollow due to the vast amount of political articles that I share, but I won't mind having one less friend on Facebook.

If you plan to belittle me because of my political alliance, you should know a few things. First, I will not cry if someone questions my beliefs. I do not need the therapeutic treatment within a "safe space" because I encountered a political discord amongst my fellow peers. Instead, I will form a civil exchange of ideas, a freedom beautifully protected under the first amendment. But I must warn you, my arguments are not drenched with emotions; they are enveloped with principle. And principle does not shed tears; it reveals the truth.

So fellow classmates, I ask you not to judge me for my political identity. Rather, I compel you to question my principles, so we can work together, through our differences, to discover the truth.

Cover Image Credit: Juliana Cosenza

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Diplomacy and Revolution

Creating A Federation With The Nation’s 19,505 Cities, Towns, and Villages, And Dissolving The 50 States Of The Union; Will Prevent The United States Of America From Balkanizing As Its Empire Declines.

As it has become undeniable under the current administration of Donald Trump, the United States has entered its imperial decline as a global hegemonic force. The economic stability of the US dollar as a global currency is wavering and the military apparatus that spans the globe is starting to grind under its own contradictions as an occupying force. As these contradictions start to buckle under their own weight, the economic collapse and military retraction in the United States hegemony is an undeniable calculation. As this economic collapse occurs, the need to reorient economic priorities will be an imperative. As our global military network and apparatus starts to evolve and retract as an occupying force, it will require a new examination of what it means to provide the security of persons in the 21st-century. These questions will be placed in needed context, as external forces press the rapid advancement of these changes; as well as domestic forces trying to acclimate to this rapid transition. As we saw in the past with the Articles of Confederation in the late 18th century, the priorities of the states and their self interests and loyalty to wealth and power place the Federal Union of the United States under threat of internal instability and external pressures that will lead to an inevitable crisis unseen in the United States since the days of the Civil War. To avoid these destabilizing factors, the wise attempt to reconstruct the Federal structure of the United States must be applied.

To do this, we must recognize that our democracy is rooted in the diplomacy between various republics; forming the federation that established the Union of the United States of America under the pretext of the Constitution. Diplomacy must be re-oriented on the municipal level to deal with the shifts of modern communication and transportation advancement; so as to avoid Balkanization. We must keep in mind that Federalism, a federation, is a structure that offers the means of ensuring a formalized diplomatic structure between communities. The Iroquois Confederacy in which the United States Union was based off of focused on representation via tribes; this localized format must be present in any transitional new system. Coupled with a format of modern technological development, a federation of municipalities is perfectly plausible for the various communities throughout the entire United States thanks to current communication and transportation systems; with evolving transportation and communication systems increasing the feasibility and ease of such a networked systems.

We have (as of 2015 data) 19,505 cities, towns, and villages in the United States. As the American empire declines, the calculation that economic divisions will spark a disunity internally must be avoided at all cost via re-federalizing. It is perfectly plausible to create a federation out of the 19,505 communities using representation of each in a federal congress. We have sports stadiums that can house tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of spectators; it would be perfectly plausible create a federal congress using such scales of construction. It would also ensure management of sub regional, regional, and super-regional networks that are internal mechanisms used for unifying local and federal systems. Not only will this new federal system prevent Balkanization and disunity of the American people, it will also offer the potentiality for economic reconstruction with the emphasis on self sustainability and self-sufficiency for every community. Utilizing social contracts such as a Second Bill of Rights to provide things such as food, water, energy, infrastructure, knowledge, and productive abilities for every community and every individuals. Living up to the motto of the United States E Pluribus Unum: Out of Many, One; as well as ensuring life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness in the 21st-century.

Our present is not the first time that the United States has risked division, as already mentioned the Articles of Confederation brought us to the edge of a complete breakdown of the Union, which was operating as only a mere confederation at the time. The slave master rebellion of 1861 that ignited what became known as the Civil War brought the United States further to the precipice of disunity. But as the Union has shown to withstand not only internal strife and division brought on by economic stratification, we have developed a federal system that has expanded its influence around the globe. As we wise up to the foolishness of attempting to assert hegemony over the peoples of the world; we will start to recognize that the survivability of our own systems will rely on a new unifying effort. One that will require nothing less than the declaration of a new Federation of the Peoples of America; guaranteed under the Declaration of Independence and Constitution that set forth to lay the foundations of the United States today. With the same mentality of transition between the Articles of Confederation to the Federal Constitution, and with the pretext of legal declaration such as the Emancipation Proclamation; we can avoid repeating the same mistakes in the past through federalizing anew. And through a new Federation, finally creating the principles and ideals that we laid out in our past but have yet to live up to in the present; by becoming at true Union of Peoples.

Cover Image Credit: Shutterstock

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The Importance Of Empathy

How just meeting new people can make all the difference in your life

Merriam Webster Dictionary describes “empathy” as, “The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another.”

During such a time with increasing social, political, and societal divide, a better comprehension of empathy would do wonders to lessen this divide.

Attaining a better sense of empathy allows for one to build upon their perspective and have a better understanding of the people around them. While it may sound too cliche or rudimentary, the best way to build a strong sense of empathy is to explore new things and new people.

In high school I was involved with football, the TV show, the art department, the drama department, the spirit club, etc.. In the fall I attended community college, and now I attend the University of Southern California. I have been able to surround myself with people of different passions, socio-economic backgrounds, and perspectives. All of which makes up a lot of who I am today.

Then while I may have my own preconceived opinions and views, I have fostered some ability to understand the point of views and thought processes of the people around me. Whether it be an privileged high school athlete, or a low-income community college art student, I have been able to interact with people across the spectrum of perspectives.

Surrounding myself with such a variety of people shapes who I am and builds me a stronger sense of self. Then while all these people I have interacted may not be my best friends, nor may I even get along with them all, I at least know where they are coming from and look at them with more than one lens of thought.

From the high school students trying to do something new and build their resume, to the successful college student who just wants to meet some more people outside of their hometown, I cannot stress enough how much getting outside of one’s comfort zone and getting to know people you may have never even spoken to before.

Just by surrounding oneself with a variety of passionate and well-intentioned people, a strong sense of empathy can be fostered. With racial and socio-economic tensions flaring consistently, society would greatly benefit if people just grew better understandings of one another. Once everyone beings to appreciate and value all the different perspectives and point of views that make up this world, a lot could change for the better.

Cover Image Credit: Alexis Brown

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