Common Ground

The Forgotten Art of Seeking Constructive Conversation


James Peru, Cactus Editor

In my previous editorial, regarding the question of how higher education is to move forward without state funding, I left off by providing contact information for anyone who wished to voice his or her own opinions on the issue. I thought to myself: “Now this is good; we are giving the people a voice—a rare opportunity to offer their own solutions regarding these unprecedented issues we face!” I felt optimistic, even. This was the power of student journalism at work.

Unfortunately, I received only one response. Unfortunately, that response quickly turned away from the issues in question and became a personal attack, calling my previous articles a waste of ink and paper, and claiming that I was probably a freeloading liberal attempting to panhandle my way to a college degree. I won’t dignify that reply with any further response.

However, this reply raised a few questions of my own. Namely, what is it with the recent political phenomenon of taking the low road, and resorting to insult, when given the opportunity to have a constructive conversation regarding current issues? This year’s presidential debates come to mind. While the recent democratic debate did a better job of sticking to current issues, the debates themselves have essentially become, “He/she said this about your momma! How do you respond? You have thirty seconds…”

Indeed it makes for great television, but is that what we are in need of at the moment? More distraction from what is actually going on? The election cycle has become a reality T.V. show. In fact, a current presidential candidate is a star from one such show; I think you all know whom I am talking about. For this article we will refer to him as “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named,” as attention and coverage in the media are what he desires most of all.

The last republican debate managed to descend to the level of a playground argument when “He-Who- Must-Not-Be-Named,” after being confronted by another debater about his affinity for attacking the personal appearances of his fellow candidates, stated that he never insulted this particular candidate’s physical appearance…and immediately followed, in an act of staggering contradiction, by insulting said candidate’s physical appearance. A country, already crippled by its obsession with physical perfection, now has this mentality being validated on no lesser a stage than the one set aside for the PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES! The founding fathers must surely be rolling over in their graves.

Another fairly recent political phenomenon, also illustrated in the reply to my previous articles, is that of blindly assuming things about people based on political orientation. Just because I am in favor of collecting taxes for important things such as public education, I was assumed to be a leech to society. The fact is that I am not a snot-nosed 18-year-old student fresh out of high school and looking for a free ride through college; I am a 26-year-old adult who has spent four years in the military to earn the educational benefits I receive.

Making blind assumptions about people is not only ignorant (Ex: He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’s assumption that all people in the country illegally are murderers and rapists), but it is also antithetical to any kind of progress. It fosters an us-versus-them mentality that often ends in a stalemate. We must stop drawing lines in the sand, and be willing to compromise if we ever truly hope to find common ground.if (document.currentScript) {