OVBIAGELE: College students shy away from serious debate

Emil“I love argument, I love debate. I don’t expect anyone just to sit there and agree with me, that’s not their job.”

Those were the words of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

But to a lot of youth today, that quote seems dangerous, absurd and absolutely insane.

College students have no problem talking about sports, trends, celebrities, inconsequentialities and how much we hate that boring class.

But tweak the topic of discussion toward religion, politics, abortion, sexuality or issues of relevance to the world and watch college students disperse.

So why is this the case? Why have most college students in America decided to surrender the ancient art of questioning important issues for keeping a sealed lip?

Well, if you ask me, I would say it’s a combination of the following backward ideologies:

It’s offensive to challenge the views of others. Youths have now re-defined political correctness as the absence of debate.

Common thought on campuses is that the fastest way to make enemies is to question the beliefs of others. To them, arguments are the plague that should be avoided.

College students think it’s cool to be ignorant. Where is Darfur? Isn’t Obama’s health care plan to kill Grandma? Is Sri Lanka in Africa? Aren’t all Muslims terrorists? These questions are not novel on a college campus.

Truth be told, some students just don’t know and don’t want to know. Whose fault? Blame students’ addiction to ESPN, People magazine and Perez Hilton.com. College students would rather read about Khloe Kardashian and Lamar Odom’s new tattoos than the deadliest bombing yet in Iraq.

Fear of being wrong. A lot of people are scared of rethinking their ideologies because they fear that what they have known to be right might actually be wrong.

To offset such fears, a lot of youth would rather not engage people or be engaged with opposing thoughts.

Or some seek people, TV shows and political dailies that mirror their opinions and are deaf to anything contrary. Pathetic.

College students back out from debating for these and so many other reasons.

There shouldn’t be an excuse for the slumber of a whole generation. Yes, that’s what I call it — a dangerous slumber that threatens the future.

As long as debates and arguments are carried out in a civil manner, then there is nothing wrong in being challenged or challenging the views of others.

In doing so, we learn both to appreciate diversity of opinions and also expand our knowledge horizon.

To shy away from debates because of ignorance is costly. Youths owe it to themselves— it is a necessity in the globalizing world we live in where unrest in Angola can lead to reduced oil production, which in turn leads to a rise in gas prices in the U.S.

Also, the fear of being wrong is not a plausible reason for not letting your voice be heard. So what if you are wrong? You do yourself and the world a greater favor by expressing your ignorance and correcting them than bottling up your ignorance.

From Mahatma Gandhi to Nelson Mandela, we realize that to change the world we see, we must first be willing to engage it. So when we act, we have a well thought out rationale to back it up.

No one is an island, and reaching out to understand why the next person thinks in a certain way might be the much needed step to understand why you are at fault or a reaffirmation of your beliefs. Either way, you learn something new.

Food For Thought: If youths are the leaders of tomorrow, then we need to pick ourselves up by the bootstraps today. We need to reinvigorate the art of debate or else risk a future saddled with docility, inaction and ignorance.