Keep your mind open

Looking around at UVM students, it is clear that they embody, for the most part, what is typically termed as liberal.

But even here in left-wing Vermont it becomes apparent that we may not be as open-minded as we think. And if thats the case, then maybe were not as liberal-minded as we think, either.

If you were to search the definition of liberal, you would see that to be liberal is to be open to new behaviors or opinions, and willing to discard traditional values.

Other definitions cite the favoring of reform, freedom from bigotry and tolerance towards others.

It seems some parts of Vermont subscribe to what it is to be liberal, particularly more populated areas like Burlington that also happens to epitomize the classic university town.

However, much of the state includes agricultural and working class areas, often accompanied by traditional and conservative ideology.

Sometimes this difference in political beliefs creates a communication issue. It is easy to criticize our neighbors, even if their opinions are relatively moderate compared to those of other countries or even other states.

Keeping an open dialogue with people who think differently is what educates us and makes the world more progressive in thought and in action.

In a video published on the Burlington Free Press website last semester, protesters showed a fight of activism against Shell Oil at a student panel.

The protest shut down the panel and took away participants ability to both share and learn the exact opposite of what it is to be liberal.

Contrary opinions were not given the opportunity to be presented, let alone contested. Have we really come to find that we have all of the answers we need? Do we have no more reason to listen?

And while this is only one example of extreme liberalism, the ideology is still present, whether at a Shell Oil panel, conference protest, blockade or picket line.

This is the danger of extremism on both ends of the spectrum. It isolates the growth of knowledge.

One does not need to respect contrary opinion, but liberality dictates that we tolerate and understand other perspectives.

Its easy to be kind when surrounded by people you like, just like its easy to be tolerant when surrounded by opinions you agree with.

If we are to subscribe to a state of liberality, we need to keep our minds open and try to understand the opinions of our opponents instead of fighting them.