Monday, March 22, 2010

Thinking Radically, Judging Critically

My college experience has forced me to think critically about numerous aspects of life; I won't go so far as to suggest I have thought about everything because I find myself thinking about new things every week during my Gender, Labor, Politics class (this week for example is food and the political economy). As an extension of this process, I have looked at myself critically as well. I grew up as a perfectionist, and I'd like to think I grew out of that to a point, where I can appreciate perfection, but do not require it and as such am much more satisfied with my accomplishments and results. As a perfectionist however, I find myself extremely critical and judgmental (which I am sure comes across in my writing). I make snap judgments about ideas, people, places, actions etc, but I am not unwilling to change those judgments, so I do not find this practice entirely harmful. However, I tend to speak my mind more quickly than not and almost always fail to censor myself for my audience. By this I mean I snap at people easily who oppose my opinion if it lies within my passions, and I tend to speak/write passionately which also often means I do so offensively. While I realize this, I always realize it too late after I have riled up whomever I am speaking to. What a dilemma. My blog is only feeding this problem because everything I write here is very raw, and virtually just a train of thought that I can only attempt to keep on topic. Improving this flammable aspect of my personality will probably be a lifelong quest

On top of being critical, I am finding myself to be more and more radical in my opinions. This is a problem because much of my family is conservative (whether self-declared or not) as well as many of my long-term friends. In college I tend to drift towards similar thinkers like myself, but inevitably I maintain contact with people with opposing viewpoints (and thank God for diversity!). I have discovered that some of my opinions are very upsetting for some of these people. For example, I think government health care is long overdue (huzzah for the vote passed yesterday!!!), I think our capitalist system is corrupt and exploitative, I think abortion is a woman's undeniable right, I think marriage is an antiquated institution which privileges heterosexual couples and maintains patriarchy, and I think the church deserves absolutely no place in our legal system. Apparently some of these thoughts are radical.

I say apparently because in my classes, these viewpoints are the status quo. My classes are full of young men and women viewing the world through a feminist lens. By this I refer to modern feminism which is no longer merely the search for gender equality, but has expanded to have political meaning as well, which is a large part of the reason it is so hard to define feminism - it is not just about women! It is for this reason I am surprised to find opposing thoughts because I am constantly surrounded by liberal thinkers. While I appreciate the existence of opposing thoughts (however much they may upset me), I love my liberal companions.

I love that there is a niche where like-minded people like myself come together and have open dialogues about issues too many people find controversial and unsettling. We are not afraid to critique society, and we are not afraid to speak out against the majority opinion. I treasure this sacred space I have found and only wish I could remain in college forever because once I leave I will be bombarded by the opposition and by those who are not ready for change. It will not be long before I am yearning for a group who longs to revolutionize nearly every aspect of society in order to end exploitation and inequality.


  1. Roche, have you read any of Audrey Lorde essays? She has a great take on racism, feminism, and her use of anger as a response to it. Not that I agree with her on everything, but it's fascinating nonetheless!

    I think what I really love about college is not necessarily finding like-minded people, but finding people who disagree with me and can hold up their side of the conversation. I feel I always learn more from people who really disagree with me, and actually, I love it when someone proves me wrong. The great thing about college is that spaces for dialog are so easy to find. Like you, I worry that I won't be able to find that after I graduate. There are some things in this post that you mentioned that I think we disagree on, and I really wish I could talk to you about them right now!

  2. There definitely exists an opportunity to learn from the opposing viewpoint, however I find that is only true if the other person actually knows what they are talking about. The opposition I am finding around myself currently is almost entirely founded in ignorance, which does not allow for an actual dialogue.