The other day, a college student posted this on social media:
"Don't take this class if you have any glimpse of conservativeness in you."
*adds to schedule*
This college student is a very bright young man, a very good young man, a very idealistic young man. And he goes to an outstanding university. He's also very witty, and I laughed really hard when I read what he posted.
You might be wondering to what class he is referring. It is called: Race and Minority Relations.
I would love to take that class.
Anyway, this young man not only entertained me, he got me to thinking. And I started thinking that the progressive young people and the conservative young people need to start taking each others' classes. Maybe some old people -- on both sides of the political divide -- need to be taking these classes, too. I would love to see Rush Limbaugh have to sit in on Race and Minority Relations -- perhaps with his mouth duct taped closed.
Those of you who have been reading my blog know that I am a Republican, with strong progressive sympathies. As a Republican, I have been pretty mortified by my party over the past several years. Way too much extremism and blatantly crazy ideas going on. And not just a little bit of fear-mongering, either. I'm pretty tired of it all.
Those of you who have been reading my blog also know that I am a Catholic and that I have three children -- two girls and a boy -- who are 25, 23, and 21 years old.
So, as a Catholic Republican, I admit that I was not disappointed when my two oldest chose to attend very conservative Catholic colleges. I wanted them to learn their faith well, and to be in an atmosphere where they would feel supported in their beliefs as they entered the adult world. The schools they attended were quite good, and they received fine educations. I did notice, though, that there was nary a Democrat to be found at either of their schools -- not amongst the students, not amongst the faculty, not amongst the staff. Well... Okay. Perhaps I exaggerate. There were probably a few Democrats in the mix. But, if there were, I bet they felt they couldn't show up sporting Obama bumper stickers on their cars. So most, if not all, of the classes my daughters took had a decidedly conservative bent. And most of the students and graduates of these schools -- at least the ones I have spent time with -- don't think very highly of progressive ideas. And they probably aren't hanging out with progressives in social settings too much, either -- at least, voluntarily.
My son's school is also Catholic. And most people would call it conservative. There are, though, quite a few progressives there -- amongst the students, faculty, and staff. Some of the classes are taught from a more conservative angle, some from a more progressive angle. My son tends to be very conservative, both religiously and politically. I have been quite impressed, though, at the friendships he has formed at his school with people of varying ideas. When he arrived home for his first Christmas break, he told me that he was finding that, "If you have a problem, it's really nice to talk to your more liberal friends. They tend to be much more sympathetic than the really conservative people." Please don't be insulted if you are a sympathetic conservative person. I don't mean to be insulting, and neither did my son. I was really happy, though, that through his exposure to progressives, he was coming to appreciate them. He was coming to view their ideas in a more open-minded manner. He was coming to see their opinions, not as threats, but as different ways of looking at the world, to be considered and discussed in a fair manner.
So, when I saw the statement made by the young man about how the conservatives probably shouldn't take the Race and Minority Relations class, it made me start to ponder my own children's college experiences, which got me to thinking about how everybody needs to start taking each others' classes. Because, as we all know, our country has become very polarized ideologically. Everybody is digging in with their own side. It's almost like trench warfare. "You progressives stay in your ditch and we conservatives will stay in ours." And once in a while -- because we've come to view each other as enemies -- we'll lob mortars into each others' trenches. And these mortars -- while maybe not causing literal limbs to be lost -- do cause injury to our society, to our culture, and to the individuals that make up our society and our culture.
So, I would like to encourage all of you young people -- left, right, and center -- to get out of your trenches and go raise a glass or two together. Talk to each other. LISTEN to each other. I have seen the good effect this respectful sharing of ideas has had on my son. And I would like to see more of it. And I believe that if you don't get out there and start mixing with each other in a way that is truly sincere, good-hearted, open-minded, and FRIENDLY, that you are simply short-changing yourselves, our country, and our world.