SVSU brings civility to political discourse with ‘Pastries and Politics’

With the kind of technology at our disposal in the 21st century, it has never been easier to communicate with friends, family and complete strangers from around the world.

One thing that has been communicated most effectively is the measure of people’s absolute rage and hatred toward others. One can feel the blood boiling behind their screens as they pretentiously lecture people on their ignorance in an elegant message the length of a high school essay. It’s quite disturbing to see how social media puts all the hate and rage of humanity into our own hands.

There are an awful lot of people out there in a constant state of rage on social media, and technology helps unleash that rage on an unprepared stranger or a stupefied friend. Technology makes it easy for one to be an always angry, contemptuous virtue signaler from the comfort of home.

Unfortunately, little learning is done in social media comment sections. Scrolling through those dark places is the definition of an unhealthy addiction. Social media is the no man’s land of the digital world; it is a vile, unforgiving place that destroys one’s mental health and self-esteem when abused.

The sheer number of people online who see themselves as indisputable authorities on ethics, morals, politics and policy is astounding. Their answer to almost everything is a brazen diatribe that signifies nothing.

Then there’s SVSU, which aims higher when it comes to political discourse, debate and shared opinions. No, I’m not referring to the SVSU Facebook page or the Valley Vanguard’s public comment section.

I’m talking about SVSU’s Pastries and Politics. SVSU promotes rich and respectful discourse through this recurring on campus event. The College Democrats and College Republicans RSOs sit down in a respectful manner to discuss policy and debate
topics such as election integrity, voter ID laws, abortion, vaccine mandates, mask requirements and gun laws in the United States. These are heavy topics that deserve care and thoughtful consideration. That is why political debates deserve mature, respectful discourse in an appropriate environment. Raging online with strangers about major matters like abortion only do a disservice to the entire topic and entrench people deeper in their anger and resentment.

Pastries and Politics allows all sides to share their concerns and engage in a productive debate monitored by a faculty advisor. There are no supervisors in comment

sections, and the unfortunate reality is that for people to discuss heated topics and remain civil, a mediator is not only recommended, but necessary. Our political climate has reached its boiling point. In 2021, you don’t need to poke the bear to release its rage, you need only make eye contact.

But walking with our heads down is no solution. Let’s sit down and talk. Through listening, respectfulness, and open- mindedness, we achieve a more diverse perspective on significant issues facing our country. People with opposing beliefs are
just as passionate in their views as you are in yours. Through respectful conversations we also realize that our fundamental beliefs as a nation are more closely linked than the media cares to admit. Division and anger are their goal, and your anger is their profit.

But when we actually clear our eyes and peer through the fog of derision put before us, we come to the realization that we are all Americans who want what is best for our country.

The mainstream media has demonstrated that its greatest fear is Americans of all beliefs, creeds, opinions, colors, religions and backgrounds unite as one people and acknowledge with maturity and dignity that we don’t have to share every single belief in order to build a better society for ourselves and generations of Americans to come.

Friedrich Nietzsche once said: “We often refuse to accept an idea merely because the tone of voice in which it has been expressed is unsympathetic to us.” How do we expect to convince someone of our views if all we do is belittle and insult our opponents? In the end, we are doing nothing more than belittling and insulting ourselves.

When we treat politics like all-out war over indisputable facts and ideologies, everyone loses, especially our nation’s integrity. There cannot be healing without compromise and understanding. It is imperative that we acknowledge the fact that we don’t always agree with everything other people think and believe, and that’s life. That’s the complexity of democracy. It’s not always pretty, but we mustn’t veer off course. We mustn’t lose sight of our goals as a country and as a people. The day we forget the meaning behind our motto: e pluribus unum, democracy will already be dead.

One of the most mature things we can do as American citizens is respect the fact that there are always going to be people out there who disagree with us, even on dire issues. That is simply part of the perplexing package democracy comes in. It doesn’t always give us the results we want. At its best, democracy gives everyone a voice and doesn’t result in division, hate and a refusal to get along with our fellow Americans. If we can’t understand that, perhaps democracy isn’t as important to us as we think.

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