Since my first semester at OU, I have participated in the Informed Citizens Discussions Groups as a member. For the last two, I have served as a group moderator. This past semester, I have served as its vice-chair of moderator engagement. Over time, the organization has taught me a lot about the world and how to interact with others.
First and foremost, it has taught me that political opinions are rarely based in pure rationality. Be they my group members’ opinions that I am criticizing, or my own opinions that I felt were perfect but turned out to be embarrassingly arrogant. Second, and it seems obvious, they’ve given me a lot of perspective on other ways of viewing the world. OU has a lot of intelligent students with a lot of different viewpoints. If I ask about opinions on Syria, I might get a response from someone whose identity is tied up in Catholicism, their Pakistani personal history, a dream to become a foreign service officer, or an economics or history background. However, it has also shown me the limitations of attending a university. Despite the variety of perspectives, it is exceptionally difficult to locate those who break the liberal mold. Specifically, it is hard to break out of the liberal democrat worldview. While I find nothing wrong with their opinions, it does greatly limit how much I can learn from them. Where are the college hawks, or social conservatives? Where are those who are categorically opposed to regulation of any sort? They, of course, exist. But it seems to me that they’re in hiding.