While America currently seems especially divided, this nation has always faced challenges. During every debate and discussion, one must remain open-minded to the other person’s side.
Inside the Dec. 20, 1929 edition of The Kingswood News, an editorial titled, “On Open-Mindedness,” details why challenging one’s beliefs is vital to our society. The editorial explains that unique points of view and the ability to stay open-minded is rare but necessary.
“There are not many men who will allow themselves to be charged in their views on prohibition,” the newspaper reads. “They have formed a deep-set prejudice, and are not approachable when it comes to thinking on the other side.”
At the time, as noted, one subject of great debate was the prohibition of alcohol. Although the National Prohibition Act was repealed three years later, in 1933, with the creation of the 21st amendment, the Prohibition era created controversy.
For students in 1929 the solution was clear. “It would tend to dispense with any ill feelings which may rise amongst us, if all of us would try to be open-minded, to see the other fellow’s side, to try and understand his feelings, and to tolerate those actions of his which we may not be able to understand,” the editorial states.
Yet, students crafted these resolutions 90 years ago. Is there still any weight to their words? “Even if your opinions aren’t going to change, I think it’s good to listen to others’ opinions so that you always know what’s going on around you,” current senior Ali Meizels said.
Today, communities across America hold differing political views, notably on abortion and immigration. Social media gives people a platform to present their ideas, which can lead to fiery debates. Often, one person will end the discussion, refusing to listen to anyone else or make any attempt at learning something new. Or, others deem the argument not even worth fighting for, since they know the other person’s opinions will not change, regardless of how long the debate lasts or what points the other person raises.
“In some respects, society is open-minded but in others it is not because people have preserved notices of the way society is,” senior Ben Small said. “The news people consume confirms their ideals and acts as an echo chamber, like Breitbart [far-right American online news outlet] and Alex Jones [American radio show host and conspiracy theorist].”
Ali said it is hard to mediate political discussions. “Political issues are very personal for a lot of people, so there’s a certain point where you can’t be open-minded,” Ali said.
There are certain shortcomings to the accessible online world, one of which is the reliability of news outlets. “I think anything that is fake news is not a legitimate news source like pizzagate,” Ben said. “I think the reason fake news exists is you can make an outlandish claim and get massive amounts of attention, so there’s definitely capitalist incentive. One kid in Macedonia posted before the 2016 election and that got a lot of attention.”
Many news outlets want recognition and notice so they cast out some shocking or appealing bait, and reel in large amounts of views and likes for posts, whether or not the story is true.
Both events taking place in 2016, Pizzagate cropped up after an alt-right conspiracy theory, claiming the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C. permitted Bill Clinton, his wife Hillary, and her former campaign manager to operate a child molestation business, caused a flood of threats to the restaurant and an attempted shooting.
In Veles, Macedonia, a teenage purveyor of fake news managed to gain 685,000 page views a week and a four figured monthly salary.
Narrowing the focus to where most KO students spend their day, KO acts as an educational discussion facilitator, whether between students and teachers or students and students. “I think KO is trying to be more mindful and hold discussions on things,” Ali said, “which is good. Since I’ve involved in social activism groups, the groups I interact with are open-minded.”
Both Ali and Ben agreed that social media could be the remedy to all the chaos that prevents civil discourse. “I know Facebook and Instagram are taking to ensure fake news does not propagate, which is good,” Ben said.
Additionally, Ali said she believes that the internet can educate people on various issues.
Regardless of which side your views land on, the students at KO still believe it is always prudent to be observant and empathetic. In order to entertain civilized conversations, arrogance and ignorance must be pushed aside.
Here’s hoping that the not-so-new idea of receptiveness to new ideas gains some traction in the near future, just as KO students envisioned for us 90 years ago and current students still try to uphold.