Safe Spaces

It seems that safe spaces are all the rage these days, at least on college campuses, and our local university is no exception.    I’m disappointed that I didn’t know about Mr. Walsh’s appearance, as I would have enjoyed the opportunity to hear him speak – something that others apparently can’t even comprehend, let alone cope with.  Regardless, safe spaces are becoming a regular topic of conversation about college campuses if not necessarily on every college campus.  Those who criticize them are roundly condemned for insensitivity and cruelty.

I have an idea I think would be uniformly educational for every single college student.  Since we’re all about diversity and cross cultural exchange (well, so long as the culture we’re exchanging with supports the current, liberal social agenda), I propose a simple, mandatory requirement for every college freshman.

Every college freshman, as part of admissions, scholarships, grants, and other forms of funding,  must agree to an overseas, 1-week exchange program in a  developing nation, to be completed within their first semester of enrollment.  Not in France or Germany or Italy, but someplace where safe space is a real and elusive goal.  Where actual physical safety – in the form of adequate food or shelter or protection from idealogical violence – is in serious question.  Some place where you don’t have a dozen fast-food options to choose from in the student union or cafeteria.  Some place where the fact that you’re seeking an education is viewed by those in authority as dangerous and to be discouraged.  Some place where one’s opinions hold remarkably little value compared to the necessity of securing food and safety and, somehow in the process, an education.

One week understanding what safety means.  One week to confront the reality that a large portion of the world lives with, rather than the isolated, comfortable, sheltered fantasy of safety so popularly invoked by people with so little actual experience in the world.  If someone holding a different viewpoint than you triggers anxiety or fear or any number of other psychological or emotional issues (real or imagined), you need a good dose of reality.  A good dose of what safety actually means, rather than what you wish it to mean by petulant foot-stamping.  One week to distinguish between the entitlement you have been blessed (or cursed) with, and the brutal lack of safety that so many others must deal with – not just people you happen to identify with or find fashionable to support with marches and protests, but people who may disagree with you vehemently but would never imagine that the solution to such disagreement is to stifle your ability to express yourself.

At the end of that week come back to your luxurious American campuses and contemplate the pettiness and anti-intellectual nature of your demand for safe spaces.  Perhaps in the process you’ll see the value of working for real change in our world that isn’t predicated on your own personal comfort and preferences.  That being  unpopular isn’t equivalent to persecution, that people who disagree with you are every bit as entitled to express their opinions and viewpoints as you are.  Perhaps in the process you’ll recognize what a lousy maxim tolerance is, compared with the far greater mandate to love your neighbor as yourself.



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