Open dialogue is key to politics, learning

Thoughtful discourse with peers is an invaluable tool in learning.

Image By: Katie Scheidt

The year 2016 has, so far, proven to be an extremely difficult one. Through the first eight months we have witnessed horrifying terrorist attacks both domestically and abroad, a civil war that has left millions in a state of crisis, an attempted military coup, an Olympic games in a politically torn nation and great political and racial tensions here in the United States. 

We still have four months to go. 

In this year that has seen so many influential events, the final four months of 2016 very well may prove to be the most important ones. We are going to say goodbye to a two-term president and vote in an election for our new one. Perhaps more importantly, we will also be voting in extremely tight races for the Senate and the House. 

As Americans, it is important that we engage fully in these elections. Simply showing up at the polls and casting your ballot is not enough. Everyone should be informed as to whom they are voting for and why they are doing so. We get to make the decision about this event, when so many other influential ones are out of our reach. Making a conscious decision is infinitely more important than making a split-second one, and the consequences of being uninformed could be dire. 

Returning, or just arriving, to UW-Madison is the best opportunity that you will ever have to become an informed and conscious voter. Here at school you are, for the most part, free of influences or people that may have impacted your thought processes in the past. You can find yourself as a person. You can find what you believe in. These are things that only you can discover. No one is capable of telling you. 

Now, how do these things tie into voting?  Well, you very well may find that what you believe in is no longer in line with what your friends or family do. This is OK. Your beliefs and opinions are no more or less right than anyone else’s:  Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and this is a right that I encourage you to exercise.  

This is an idea that extends beyond just the voting polls. Become involved here on campus. Meet new people and get to know them. Make the effort to understand them: who they are, where they are from and how their path to UW-Madison may be very different than your own. These may seem like daunting tasks on a campus that is home to 40,000-plus students, but putting in the effort to do these things is well worth the reward. 

The idea of going out and introducing yourself to new people and ideas may seem counterintuitive in your attempt to discover your own beliefs, politically and otherwise, but I believe that it is the most important thing when doing so. Without exposure to new ideas, one cannot truly grow as a person. It is in the moments that you have to stop and think about something that you have read, heard or witnessed, that you are truly learning. 

The year 2016 has been an extremely difficult one, but it has been full of learning moments. With just four months remaining there is no way to be completely certain of what is to come, whether good or bad. However, I am certain that the opportunity to learn from new experiences will be present. Whether this comes in the form of a horrific international event, or from a simple conversation, the opportunity to learn will always be there. 

These learning opportunities are exactly what we hoping to provide here at the opinion desk of The Daily Cardinal. Our mission is to serve as a medium for thoughtful discussion, and to encourage open dialogue on issues that we face both here on campus and beyond. On behalf of my co-editor, Sebastian, and myself, I would like to welcome you back to campus for the Fall 2016 semester. We are extremely excited to carry on production of the opinion desk, and we hope that you take every opportunity you have to learn from new experiences. 

Jack is a sophomore majoring in journalism and political science. Do you place value in hearing multiple opinions? What have you learned so far in 2016? Please send all questions, comments and concerns to opinion@dailycardinal.com.  

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