Opinion editor's note
Just by virtue of being sheltered, fed, and clothed, we are among the richest quarter of people in the world. Add to that the endless opportunities and resources available to us as MIT students, and there is no question that we are among the freest to direct our lives and exert our wills. Yet freedom can’t be sustained on its own. Will, direction, and a sense of responsibility lift our wings to keep us here.
However, despite having resources and opportunities on our side, we are limited — there is evidence that we do not fully grasp the perspectives in vast parts of our nation. The day following the 2016 election, people on campus were not just surprised; many were shocked. While about half of US voters cast their ballots for President Trump, many of us at MIT don’t know more than a couple of his supporters, let alone earnestly discussed politics with those supporters.
What brought us together at MIT can also be isolating from other parts of the nation, making it difficult to see past our local circles. Many of us were blind to the states of mind in this country and the real weight of our community’s voices. We have a responsibility to learn about the prominent perspectives that so many of us missed up until now, and why they were missed. After all, we cannot be truly engaged with our broader society if we fail to engage with half of our own country.
The Tech’s opinion section is a platform for students who are attuned to our community’s needs. These students make passionate calls for us to take responsibility: to engage with US politics, participate in campus policy-making procedures, and support our fellow Institute members. Our call now is to not only sustain their approach, but to expand so that diverse voices will be heard. We wish to welcome opinions across the whole political spectrum. Some may anger or frustrate many of us, but well-reasoned debates are key to understanding each other. Every voice will find a channel to be heard, if not in the opinion section of a newspaper then in an election. And if our first serious exposure to an opinion is at the ballot box, we will be left surprised, unconvinced, unable to convince, and deprived of the opportunity to discuss the matter as we should.
We can all benefit from supporting deep and courageous conversations on campus. Until then, discussing politics only amongst like-minded people is like inhaling our own exhaled breaths — filling our home with fresh air requires that we open a window.