by Kieran Mangla and Maddy Hoffman
“We are living in uncertain times.”
This phrase is a cliche now, yes, but it’s nevertheless true. In the United States, we are dealing with an unprecedented pandemic, a contentious political election, and difficult conversations surrounding race and police brutality. Instead of having open and honest dialogues about these critical issues, people are engaging in unproductive shouting matches or, even more dangerously, not engaging in discussion at all. These issues can often feel unapproachable to students, as they are challenging, complex, and sensitive. However, their complexity makes them all that more important to discuss.
Counterviews.org is designed for students, by students, to offer them a platform to tackle these topics and a space to learn from the perspectives of their peers. By creating a welcoming space for discourse, students can work through complex problems together and disagree thoughtfully and respectfully. Social media hashtags and 280-character Twitter blurbs are a fine way to exhibit support for a cause, but they do little to enrich our understanding of a topic or the views of others; they are a safe way to get political without actually getting political. By promoting thoughtful discussion, Counterviews.org encourages students to share and explore their ideas in a way social media is simply not equipped to handle.
Finally, the content on this platform is meant to inspire conversation. After all, the best way to strengthen our own political views is to challenge the perspectives of those who disagree with us - and that requires seeking-out those perspectives and considering them with care. We certainly will not come to any viable solutions for these problems if we don’t discuss them with honesty and respect. Disagreement is fundamental, disdain is unnecessary. Baseless argumentation and vilification will not heal our country of all the difficulties it currently encounters, but empathy and understanding can certainly be a stepping stone to change.
And there is nothing uncertain about that.
Have something to add? Disagree? Write a Counterview.
Kieran Mangla and Maddy Hoffman are students at the College of William & Mary and the creators of Counterviews.org.