JP. O’Hagan: Can’t we all just get along?

View from the press box

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There is an old journalism theory that states if the headline of a piece asks a question, the answer to that question is always no. The same holds true here. Can’t we all just get along? No.

Now by no means am I saying that we can’t eventually get along or that many of us currently get along. However, I firmly believe that we can’t all just get along. My personal issue when this very common phrase arises is the use of one simple four-letter word, “just.” “Just,” as used in the phrase, implies that the only thing missing from peace on campus, in this nation and even around the world is the willingness of people to put down their differences.

This imaginary roadblock, as I see it, could not be further from the truth. Humans are intrinsically different from each other due to numerous and often complex reasons. Upbringing, interests, our life events and our reactions to them all shape us individually as human beings. Where we differ biologically, things beyond our control such as the pigment of our skin, our gender or even our age, those are not fundamental differences between people, no matter how much media and the government may present those divisions to you. On that basis, every human has certain inalienable rights. No difference can or should be found among them. Instead we must judge people on things in their control.

People are different on a personal individualized level and such blanket approaches to issues in every facet of life are ill-fitted to fix the problems in our world, our country and on this campus. I hope you will join me on a journey of looking at these issues through a lens cleared of the artificial divisions we have created and instead judge every issue and every idea on their merits rather than the origin.

We must first form this lens. We need to look above the typical differences that divide us and instead first unite in how we are similar. Once we have this lens we must use it to understand how our differences can come together to become a more perfect whole. We may be different, but so are individual puzzle pieces and they come together to become a beautiful whole. To see that larger picture of the puzzle, we need to be above the table rather than at the table’s surface.

This column is entitled, “View from the press box.” As the sports editor, I am able to see the larger picture of the action on the field or court from the press box, similar to standing above the table. It seems only fitting that this year, as I write this column, I encourage my fellow students to take a similar view from above the chaos and try to see a larger picture. The first step to see that picture is to understand the individual pieces, and so my challenge in each article will be for the readers to better understand their peers. The challenge will always be to have discussions and find the differences and the similarities between one another.

Colleges are supposed to be places for those discussions on all topics to occur. I can only hope CWRU can return to that type of culture where ideas of all types can be shared and debated. Last year, the campus community came face-to-face with the ugliness of racism, police brutality, rape culture and many other issues. Instead of open discussion, the larger response was an emotional one of attacking and defending opinions. I want to facilitate constructive discussions on topics like these that arise this year.

While I am encouraging debate on these topics, everyone is entitled to their own opinions and should not be attacked. Opinions can be swayed but never proven. I personally am open to criticisms that will arise from my thoughts on this column. If you have a point of view you wish to discuss and can’t find someone to discuss it with, please reach out to me. However, I will never argue with any member of the campus community if an opinion is wrong or right.

I will, however, argue facts, since facts can be proven. I will attempt to sway you and you can try to sway me, but attacking my opinion or those of anyone you discuss with is counterproductive to the purpose of these talks. These discussions are for the swaying of opinions, finding actual truths and accepting differences. They are not for the purpose of attacking points of view different from your own. This first vital step is why we can not simply “just” get along. We can eventually get along, but it will require time, effort and understanding. So this is the first step. Start talking.

JP. O’Hagan is a junior at CWRU and sports editor for The Observer. In the classroom he is “one of those” crazy BME and pre-med student. When he isn’t studying or contemplating and discussing life’s largest issues, he enjoys Netflix and watching Chicago sports.