The second half of 2016 promises change. We will be adjusting to a new university president, we will be finding a new provost, and most of us will be adapting to a new alcohol policy. We will be dealing with the questions raised and emotions felt this summer around sexual assault and police brutality. And on the second Tuesday of November, we will help decide the new President of the United States of America.
The easiest way to address these changes is to group ourselves into buckets of general ideas. While we may not fully agree with their nuances, we, for simplicity, just nod our heads. I don’t have to be the one to tell you that there are plenty of Republicans that are not supporting Donald Trump, just as there are many Democrats who would rather not be casting a ballot for Hillary Clinton. Agreeing with one aspect of a platform is not the same as agreeing with it all.
People–and ideas–are complicated. As Stanford students, we have the privilege of having a voice that is heard. People listen to what we have to say. We also have the burden of being young, excited, and eager for change. This enthusiasm often drives us to make decisions quickly, to simplify what we can, and to come up with excuses to disregard contrarian opinions. We attack groups — ‘those Democrats’ or ‘those activists’ or ‘those Republicans’ — instead of understanding that there’s a face, and maybe even a friendship, on the receiving side of our remarks. We create a list of things that we do not believe in rather than truly taking the time to explore and understand our core values. This election, we will see people exercise their right to vote out of fear: most will vote for what they consider to be the lesser evil. Not many will consider an independent ticket or a write in; but why not? There is a very valid risk that voting for the candidate, whom you do support, may take votes away from another and allow your least-favorite candidate to win. But we don’t have to choose to perpetuate that cycle out of fear. How can our elected representatives listen to us, if we are afraid to tell them how we really feel? How can we have legitimate conversations with our peers about complicated issues when their potential reaction makes us scared to say that we are confused, conflicted or just simply disagree?
Clinging to assumption of what we think is right keeps us static and polarized. If we are not always testing our views and principles, there can be no improvement.We need to understand why we care about certain issues and why we prioritize certain solutions. We should start with the trying to break down our own arguments before we try to knock down others. We should look at contradictory viewpoints as a way to test our ideas and opinions before dismissing the opposing side, before defaulting to fighting against that with which we disagree.
This process will not be easy. It will not feel good. Otherwise, we would be doing it already. But we need to be comfortable with failure to drive change and, ultimately, improvement. If we don’t do so now, while we’re in an educational environment created to catch us if we fall, we can’t expect to make any progress in addressing the issues we are currently facing. That is The Review’s promise to you for this volume: to help you start this process and be such an individual. This paper will be a voice to those who feel that they cannot be heard, to perspectives that challenge the status quo, to ideas that are not receiving the attention they deserve. You may not always agree with what is published, but I challenge you to read, consider, and discuss the articles that push you out of your comfort zone. I challenge you to write your responses in the Review and to reach out to individual writers in order to have real conversations about these important topics. The Review believes in thoughtful questions, challenging conversations, and brave ideas. We are going to stand behind what we believe in. I hope you will too.