Unity not uniformity

Finding love in difference

Angela Ide, Layout Editor

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Last Friday, images of protestors who would usually spend their Fridays studying for math tests and cramming for chemistry labs took over the media. Wielding powerful, creative and assertive signs these protestors camped outside of Parliament. All of this is the result of the trailblazing Greta Thunberg did in Sweden. 

As an activist, Thunberg, 16, started skipping school on Fridays to protest outside of Parliament. Millions followed in a youth-led global protest for climate change last Friday. Participating in the #FridaysforFuture movement, these young people had the goal of making the voices of humanity’s future heard three days before the United Nations Climate Action Summit. Spanning across language barriers and around the world, it is easy to see that there is an outcry for change in climate policies and a call for humanity to take on its role as a caretaker. 

As amazing as these activists are for standing up for what they believe to be true, and not allowing for their age to interfere with their voice, not everyone agreed with the way these protests occurred. Many people saw the images of children holding signs as brainwashed, parrots repeating what society and their parents have forced upon them.

Chloe Guillot | The Falcon

Bear in mind, schools around America had varying reactions to the school walkouts against gun violence last year after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. 

The Superintendent of Needville, Texas, Curtis Rhodes, responded surprisingly.

 NPR Ed reporters Cory Turner and Clare Lombardo spoke on Curtis Rhodes’s reaction as he “issued a stern warning to students and parents” in a letter saying, “please be advised that the Needville ISD will not allow a student demonstration during school hours for any type of protest or awareness … Should students choose to do so, they will be suspended from school for three days and face all the consequences that come along with an out of school suspension.” 

This and many other political discussions have shown time and time again that when people are faced with beliefs that contradict their own, they can be left speechless and baffled.

As students walk into a new year of school, political issues there will be a convergence of differing opinions, perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences. We will have to find a way to hear the love amid differences instead of continuing the cycle of barriers and defenses. 

First things first, we have to realize that a difference of opinion does not nullify or attack our ideas. That shines a light on the core of what those in opposition are saying. We can hear the concern for humanity’s future instead of their anger for the situation. 

For example, those in opposition to youths taking a stand for global climate change are often those who worry about the innocence of children and care about how our society is pressuring them. 

Instead of hearing that children aren’t old enough to have a voice, they believe that they had beliefs and issues pushed upon them as kids and they don’t want to see that perpetuated. 

To explain the situation of these belief systems and concerns to an outsider, one must understand that many times people with more extreme views usually live in a “media desert.” 

A media desert is a place that has firewalls to keep any disagreeable, unwelcome or varied media coverage out, like mountains limit the rain coming over the passes.

Media deserts also have internal media outlets that feed their fears of outside positions and reinforce their own beliefs, similar to how the dry ground reflects the rays of the sun to a suffocating heat. 

The people in these groups have trouble realizing that the rest of the world isn’t a desert because they never leave — and they don’t understand outside views because they have feared them for so long.

What we are responsible for remembering is that people with extreme political views are people foremost. 

They love their children, they love this planet, and they want their children to have a real, bright future on this planet; they just communicate it differently. 

The perceived act of pushing, coercing and impressing upon young minds to make a political point breaches values of trust, integrity, and innocence which are irreplaceable and are to be protected against threats at all costs. 

The love these people have for people is extreme, and there is strength in that.

When people are deeply wounded or traumatized by an event, it is human nature to defend against a recurrence by diligently watching for signs of repetition and running to the defense of others in similar situations. 

So, before jumping to the conclusion that people in different sectors of the same political spectrum do not care about those they oppose, it is important to realize that the act of their involvement and attention in political issues are often expressions of love communicated in the only way they know how to: defense.