“This is my safe space.”
It appears that university students have found that offering an arena to avoid any disagreeable material is the light we strive for at the end of the tunnel, the golden gates we will enter through into a place where no one dare offend another.
A “safe space” in these terms is no glistening, optimistic glow, but instead a deep, deep hole we continue to dig.
As politics remain heated across the nation, college campuses have been no exception. In many cases, protesters have gathered to challenge the allowance of unwanted speakers on campus. In many cases, they deem these guests as white supremacists, sexists, or basically anything they want.
In some cases, these protests have resulted in the removal of a planned speaker, or thousands of dollars have been spent to provide safety for both attendees and protesters at these events, as they have the tendency to become rowdy.
In mid-September, UC Berkley was met with incredible protests due to the conservative speaker Ben Shapiro speaking; even at Vanguard students have walked away from chapels that provided information they were no longer wishing to hear.
Now, in America we by all means have the right to voice our opinions, a right to protest and, thankfully, a right to the press. That is an amazing opportunity and blessing for our nation; something I believe does us much more good than anything as a society.
However, these freedoms also come with darker, threatening undertones that could take the reigns if we are not careful. Just because our opinions are able to be spoken does not excuse us from our duty to listen.
We often hear, and use, the word “safe space” to mean a place where conversation will not be offensive or harsh towards others. I challenge you to redefine that term.
To begin, being offended is a choice, a reaction that usually spawns from hearing something you do not like, agree with, or approve of.
When we choose to be offended by someone’s comments or beliefs, we automatically shut off all forms of our own possible growth. There is a fair chance that someone’s words will lack full merit, or will present an argument worthy of you completely changing your own. However, to write off someone’s entire charge without at least dissecting it for possible wisdom not only cuts off the dialogue, it also impedes your own journey.
Now, when you hear the words “safe space,” don’t think of the conversation where nothing will be said to upset anyone else; instead, imagine a place where individuals respect one another enough to challenge and be challenged.
A safe space should be a safe space to be pushed, prodded, and questioned. A mutual understanding, goal, and honor of one another would create an arena for intellectual, political and social discussion.
So we have a duty to create safe spaces for one another: we must not allow ourselves to respond in defensiveness and truly listen and digest the arguments of our opponents.
Not everyone will offer you something to carry with you forever, but everyone has something to offer.