How do you manage to function as a conservative in class? How do you balance your personal ideology without feeling discouraged, or as if you are not a member of campus?
In all honesty, I will admit that it was a challenge at first, especially when I was a first year in preceptorial. The problem arose not in the exposure to different opinions (I come from a very liberal community), but it was silence enabled by fear; I wanted my peers here to like me, so I kept silent on most issues. Key word: most. I never kept quiet about religion and religious respect.
As time went on, however, as I became more of an active member in Knox Conservatives and became more comfortable with what my opinions were, I decided that it was either say my opinion and be criticized and thought lesser of, or sit in silence and continuously wish that I did. I decided to risk that.
I will never forget what one of my elder peers said to me after I had initially signed up for Knox Conservatives at the carnival of clubs my first year; another student “threatened” to light their table on fire because they were conservatives. That was sort of an eye-opening experience for me, considering I had never really realized how intolerable people could be of others.
Even now on this campus it is extremely hard to foster an intellectual and genuinely respectful conversation with someone with differing political opinions, and I’ve written on that topic before. Sitting in class is a whole different ballgame, except sometimes you have to go up to bat against what the professor is telling his or her students.
In multiple classes that I have taken on this campus, the professors have not been fans of Catholicism, and they make that very clear, sometimes even on the first day of class.
As a Catholic, that is (believe it or not) quite offensive and it certainly makes me dislike the class a substantial amount.
But I get the impression I’m not actually supposed to be offended. Why? If the same were said about Judaism or Islam or Buddhism, would the response be the same? Why is it okay to be disrespectful towards the Roman Catholic Church, but not other establishments? Because of the stereotypes against the Church? Because of the Church’s corrupt past? Is it okay to hold stereotypes on race or gender? Would that be as acceptable? Think on that for a second.
Harboring anti-Catholic thoughts is the same as being anti-Muslim or anti-Semitic; I would even go as far as to say being an anti-any-religion-ist is the same as being a racist or a sexist. To me, religious respect has always come first, but it is that that has sparked my conservative passion on this campus. I have the right to demand respect for what I believe in as long as you are demanding the same. In class, I do not hold back my opinions, but I am able to communicate those opinions in a respectful manner. Besides, my opinions probably aren’t that different from yours.
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