By Gianni Marabella
As everyone on TV will tell you, we live in a post-facts world. Politicians can say whatever they want, and it’s frustrating to see how little you’d have to dig to disprove some of the claims being made by the people in charge. It feels like if only people did a little research instead of repeating everything they hear on the television, then maybe our society wouldn’t feel so backwards.
The problem at the center of this is that, in this world of “fake news,” so many people in this country are happy to believe the first thing they hear and regurgitate it to as many people as they can. The range in vocabulary you’re likely to see scrolling through FaceBook gets smaller and smaller as more and more people become content to say the exact same things.
As liberal arts students the hope is that the people we are surrounded with don’t fall prey to the same ignorance that seems to define this country. However, I can’t say that as a community we always make an effort to stay educated and to really understand the issues we engage in.
Willamette’s community is one that encourages its students to challenge systems that we find unjust. Whether it be at the level of how we are graded in class or how we stand up oppressive social structures, the Willamette student is expected to be somewhat less defined by the apathy that generally defines the people of this country.
Where some people fall short is that they learn to go along with whatever the campus majority believes (reactions to larger political issues are rarely polarized here) and they don’t feel the need to educate themselves further. And while I commend anyone who works to hold up those whom our society has ignored, we can’t just stop being advocates at the easiest possible point. It’s easy to hold up a sign, but that’s just a surface level way to actually engage in these issues.
At the end of the day, a lot of the conversations you’re likely to have on this campus regarding social issues tend to go the same way. We have the same words and phrases we pass around before making an attempt to form our own opinions.
A word I hear thrown around a lot is ‘problematic.’ I feel privileged to live in a culture that doesn’t stand by and let backwards discourse slide. However, I find it concerning how often the word ‘problematic’ comes from the mouths of people who are only tenuously connected to the issue and wouldn’t be able to hold their ground in a debate if confronted.
People have learned to identify problematic behaviors and paradigms, but at the end of the day their understanding is just that — surface level identification. And if we just repeat the same rhetoric we hear passed on from our peers and the internet, how different are we from the those on the television who think the government wants to ban handguns?
No matter what you fight for, your cause will crumble if you don’t educate yourself enough to stand up for it.