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The United States is built on conflict. From gaining independence through rebellion and bloodshed, freeing the entire country through even more bloodshed, to celebrating debates between electoral candidates with contrasting ideals as the pinnacle of verbal dispute, conflict is a fundamental element of American culture. It helps people with intellectual differences gain an understanding of one another, and groups championing opposite causes reach a compromise that suits both sides. Conflict is a necessary part of society’s operation. So for the love of folk music and monster trucks, why has our civilization become so obsessed with ending it?
“Safe Spaces” are monuments to this modern movement. Small areas of protected territory, where specific beliefs and ideals can be cultivated without the interference of outside detractions and influence. On paper, that seems like an idyllic invention; a place free of dispute and disagreement, where a single model of thought can be lauded by its guardians for its perceived brilliance. It’s perfect. Until the realization hits that the unified backing and protection of one solitary ideal is not only dangerous, but also totally fucking useless.
It’s our differences in opinion that make us strong as a whole. So often, our population’s inconsistencies are said to be a mark of weakness, but it’s so much the opposite. When someone challenges another’s belief, it gives incentive for that person to defend said belief, leading to a dialogue that ends up benefiting both individuals. It’s insane that people are going to such obscene lengths, like carving out a space where they can’t be challenged, in order to avoid having to hear the opinions of people who don’t agree with them. It’s some pansy ass bullshit.
What is even more unbelievable about “Safe Spaces” is that the people who perpetuate them expect that in the age of the 24-hour news cycle, social media, and constant internet exposure, their made up ring of protection will go unchallenged. Uh, what?
What makes someone think they have the right to deem a cause untouchable? What kind of arrogant, warped world do they live in where what they define as “the right view” on a topic is beyond reproach? That shit is un-American. This country moves forward through compromise, something that can’t happen when people (on both sides) who hold on with pathetic desperation to opposing outlooks and tuck them away into vaults. Instead, we need an open discussion and a willingness to accept critique; that’s how things change, thats how things get done. This is the USA, where we we don’t hide from people who disagree with us.
“Why, sir, I have seen an American general and his officers, without pay, and almost without clothes, living on roots, and drinking water; and all for liberty! What chance have we against such men?”- British officer to his commander, after visiting the camp of General Francis Marion (The Swamp Fox) to exchange prisoners.
That’s who the fuck we are, not this soft as puppy shit in July attitude that our causes and beliefs ought not be criticized in the open. If a belief or ideal means something to you, you welcome the conflict that comes with it, you stand prepared to sacrifice for your cause. That is how ideals become relevant and, more importantly, refined. You don’t hide them away in imaginary safe havens where detractors are accused of bigotry if they dare invade or challenge.
Maybe the most important freedom we have in this country is the ability to speak our minds. However, that right does not include preventing anyone who expresses contrasting sentiments from doing so. But this is not something to fear or expel, it is something to be welcomed. In order for any sort of path forward on issues to appear, there needs to be meaningful dialogue from both sides; which cannot occur if we have safe spaces where only one view can be heard. History teaches us that there is no growth without sacrifice, so to expect advancement on a cause without conflict is simple-minded. In this case, we need to learn from the people that came before us; if something is truly precious to you, fight for it..