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Re: shifting the debate right. #1

Dear all,

Let me begin by stating my personal political views. I consider myself a traditional liberal (although I do believe in a minimum floor for every person, and hence support a welfare state, with my preferred choice being a universal basic income). I want to see a world in which people are left free to do what they want to do, as long as their behaviour does not really harm others and they contribute to the basis of society. This means I support abortion and euthanasia, oppose Black Pete, oppose legal firearms, oppose endless wars, support tax cuts for the lower and middle class and oppose increased taxing and a wealth tax.

This all places me as a centrist In The Netherlands, a left-winger in America, but also on the right at EUC, showing the complexity of the issue, and the different frames everyone has for defining left and right. Even though I do not consider myself to be on the right, I do at times feel intimidated by how left-wing EUC is, and have found myself softening up some views of mine that may be somewhat more right-wing, without actually believing in it, so I felt like I had to respond here.

We are all prone to the false-consensus effect, and that to me is clear at EUC as well. Because almost all of us are on the left, we tend not to see that only 30% of Dutch people consider themselves to be on the left (In the Dutch spectrum, not the American). If we fall into the echo chamber trap, we disregard 70% of the population. At EUC, 90%+ may be on the political left, but there is no denying that that's not an accurate representation of The Netherlands, or even the world.

No matter how correct you think you are in your views, most of us feel that. I think it should be encouraged to listen to the other person as if they have some wisdom that you do not have, no matter how much you disagree with them.

I talk to all of you and I learn so much from all of you every day. Then, I listen to a right-wing commentator and I learn from them as well. I try to broaden my worldview by listening to everyone, no matter their world view, and really trying to understand the roots of their argument, not to disagree with them, but to see what I can learn from them.

I think that is what should be encouraged at EUC, much more than getting people to the "right" side. I understand some of you might feel like you are right and your task is to convince others of your standpoints, but in my view being a critical world citizen includes trying to learn from everyone, not just from those that are further in your ideology.

Even though I do not think we do not try to be open minded at EUC, quite the opposite, I do think we should be more open to views that are not ours. I try to be as open as I can to every person, no matter their ideology. Even if people follow ideologies I disagree with completely, from socialism to right-wing nationalism, I will still try to listen to them and look for a common understanding. That's what I think is the beauty in debate and discussion, and that's where I think more focus should be put. Only when they feel you genuinely understand their points, you can talk to them without the barrier that is often present in discussion, and that is where the most genuine and interesting debates come from. That is what I encourage everyone of us to do.

Our core value is community. Can we ever really be an open community if we reject the political views of 70% of the population? I believe we cannot be and I believe we should strive to be as open-minded as possible. That does not mean that you should not try to argue for your beliefs, or that you have to be convinced by everyone, but it does mean that we should all genuinely listen to what another person has to say, without rejecting it beforehand. We should accept diversity of ideology, just like we should accept any other diversity. The world is already such a messy place, with people everywhere fighting ideological battles. We should strive for an open place with as much common understanding as possible, and I believe this discussion to be an excellent first step.

Short sidenote: I do not claim to be perfect in any way. We are all still learning and I have my fair share of misses as well, as people from my year will know. I just seek for common understanding and I would love to talk with every single one of you, about this or any other issue. I really hope this encourages some of us, both on the left and the right, to take a higher perspective, and critically reflect on both our own statements, as well as each other’s, without getting into a heated deadlock argument.


Bela Park

EDIT: This post is NOT meant to gloss over or tolerate racism, sexism, bigotry, etc. I condemn all of these things, and will not stand for them. My post is meant to encourage people to look further than their own bubble. I would argue that even when dealing with a racist, sexist or anything in that direction, the best course of action is still to openly talk with them and try to understand why that person has these views. That way, one can tackle the problem at the root, instead of merely condemning the results. However, I will say very clearly that racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and all these things should not be encouraged, and does not fall under free speech. As I made clear in my introduction, I support freedom, and with that freedom of speech, only as long as one is not actively harming others with it. When that border is crossed, it no longer falls under freedom of speech and it should be condemned.

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