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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I'm A Christian And I Have A Tattoo

Stop judging me for it.

Like most people, I turned 18 years old during the course of my senior year of high school. I’ll never forget the months prior to my birthday, though, because I spent hours making a decision that would be with me forever, the decision of where I would go to get my first tattoo and where that tattoo would go, and of course I spent a lot of time deciding on the font, the colors, and all of the other aspects of the tattoo I wanted. Throughout this time, two things stood firm 1) the fact that I was going to get a tattoo, and 2) the six letter name that it would consist of.

Now, three years later, I’m 21 years old and I still get the occasional dirty look at church on Sunday or in line at Walmart, and more often than not this look is accompanied by the following words: “Why would you do that to your body when God says not to?” A few weeks ago at a new church, a woman came up to me and said, “How can you consider yourself a Christian when you have that blasphemous thing on your foot?”, I simply smiled at her and said: “God bless you, have a good week.” I let it roll off of my back, I’ve spent the past three years letting it “roll off of my back”… but I think it’s time that I speak up.

When I was 8 years old, I lost my sister. She passed away, after suffering from Childhood Cancer for a great deal of my childhood. Growing up, she had always been my best friend, and going through life after she passed was hard because I felt like even though I knew she was with me, I didn’t have something to visually tribute to her – a way to memorialize her. I, being a Christian and believing in Heaven, wanted to show my sister who was looking down on me that even though she was gone – she could still walk with me every day. I wanted it for me, for her. I wanted to have that connection, for her to always be a part of who I am on the outside – just as much as she is a part of who I am on the inside.

After getting my tattoo, I faced a lot of negativity. I would have Leviticus 19:28 thrown in my face more times than I cared to mention. I would be frowned on by various friends, and even some family. I was told a few times that markings on my body would send me to hell – that was my personal favorite.

You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks on you: I am the LORD.
Leviticus 19:28

The more I heard these things, the more I wanted to scream. I didn’t though. I didn’t let the harsh things said about me and my choice change the love I have for the Lord, for my sister, or for the new precious memento on my left foot. I began to study my Bible more, and when I came to the verse that had been thrown in my face many times before – I came to a realization. Reading the verses surrounding verse 28, I realized that God was speaking to the covenant people of Israel. He was warning them to stay away from the religious ways of the people surrounding them. Verse 28 wasn’t directed to what we, in today’s society, see as tattoos – it was meant in the context of the cultic practice of marking one’s self in the realm of cultic worship.

26 "You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor practice divination or soothsaying. 27 You shall not round off the side-growth of your heads nor harm the edges of your beard. 28 ‘You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the LORD. 29 ‘Do not profane your daughter by making her a harlot, so that the land will not fall to harlotry and the land become full of lewdness. 30 ‘You shall keep My sabbaths and revere My sanctuary; I am the LORD. 31 ‘Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God."
Leviticus 19:26–31

The more I have studied my Bible over the past few years, the more I pity those who rely on one verse in the Old Testament to judge and degrade those, like myself, who made the decision to get a tattoo for whatever reason they may have for doing so. This is because, you see, in the New Testament it is said that believers are not bound by the laws of the Old Testament – if we were, there would be no shellfish or pork on the menus of various Christian homes. While some see tattoos as a modification of God’s creation, it could also be argued that pierced ears, haircuts, braces, or even fixing a cleft lip are no different.

24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor."
Galatians 3:24-25

In Galatians, we read that the Old Testament law was created to lead people to Jesus. However, we know that Jesus has come and died on the cross for our sins. He has saved us, therefore we are no longer held to this law in order to have a relationship with the Lord. Our relationship with Him comes from believing that Jesus came to Earth to die on a cross for our sins, and repenting of our sins – accepting Jesus as our Savior.

I am a Christian, I have a relationship with the Lord that is stronger than it has ever been, and - I HAVE A TATTOO.

I have a beautiful memento on my left foot that reminds me that my sister walks with me through every day of my life. She walked with me down the red carpet at my senior prom, she walked with me across the stage the day I graduated from high school, and she continues to be with me throughout every important moment of my life.

My tattoo is beautiful. My tattoo reminds me that I am never alone. My tattoo is perfect.

Stop judging me for it.

Cover Image Credit: Courtney Johnson

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To Fathers Acting like Parents, Not Strangers

You are a rare breed.


Thank you for everything that you are; for knowing that it is better to try to be there than to be absent entirely; for loving your children instead of teaching them not to love themselves.

"Father": there are many that vacate this title. Either they don't know what it means or they do and simply do not want to take on the role. It's "too much" for them. Tell me, is a father's presence too much for him or is his absence too much for the children? Who hurts more? The fathers at least had something to let go of, but a child never had anything to hold onto. Perhaps now their small hands only grasp the notion of a family, but even then, the concept is too big for them to wrap their fingers around.

So thank you for not letting your children's childhood lay as a corpse in a casket. Thank you for showing them that they are not some part-time job. Thank you for letting them know that they weren't a job to begin with; that loving them iseasy and difficult— but never impossible. Thank you for staying and making your presence worth it.

Thank you.

Cover Image Credit:

Derek Thomson

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