Sunday, May 21, 2006

Outside the Ivy Walls

Say what you will about college life, but it is an incredibly open, tolerant, and enlightened place. I know some of you reading this will say just the opposite, will argue that college is a dark, dark, awful place. But there is something nice about the fact that students in college are constantly thinking, that college is a place where students are inherently examining the world.

College is a place where people are open to new ideas. And sometimes that's a bad thing. As always, I'm reminded of the advice, "don't be so open-minded that your brains fall out." But every now and then, outside the ivy walls, I hear a statement that strikes me as so outlandish and intolerant and ridiculous and I realize the difference between college and the "real world."

Someone who shall remain nameless said to me recently something to the effect of "suicide is just stupidity." This was in relation to specific cases of suicide and it floored me. How grossly insensitive, how intolerant, how completely lacking in understanding and sympathy.

Now, you might say, not such a big deal, right? But it is a big deal. College may have its ups and downs, it may have more bad than good, but it's a place where people are willing to be understanding, where they're willing to walk a mile in someone else's shoes, where they're willing to accept someone else's decisions as valid or at the very least sensical.

It's an understanding you don't necessarily get outside the ivy walls.


At 5/21/06, 4:46 PM, Anonymous J said...

I'm with you on this one. I, for one, love the ideal of college. It's supposed to be a time for expanding your mind and exploring new ways of thinking. If that's not awesome, I don't know what is. I don't think everyone sees it like that, but I (and apparently you) do.

Enjoy your time there.

Oh, and the stupdity of the suicide comment needs no words.

At 5/27/06, 7:51 PM, Blogger Ezzie said...

Good, interesting post. Obviously I'm not going to defend the suicide commenter, but your (proper) response to that does emphasize another (negative) aspect of many colleges. People often have the same response about people being intolerant or the like about highly contentious issues (Israel, for an easy example) and tend to shunt off those opinions even though there is no good reason to do so: Sometimes (often?) because of a [biased] agenda. Supposedly, this comes from open-mindedness towards (in this example) Palestinians; in reality, it comes from a closed-mindedness towards Israel and/or Jews.

At 5/27/06, 7:53 PM, Blogger Ezzie said...

Wow, that was a lot of paranthetical comments.

To clarify: It is sometimes, but rarely, proper to shut off certain discussion. People can rationalize the legitimacy of every comment, no matter how wrong, such as the suicide comment. On the other hand, people can claim to be extremely tolerant while in reality they are simply more tolerant of that which people should not be - but less understanding of that which they should be.

At 5/28/06, 2:39 PM, Blogger Eli7 said...

Ezzie, I think you're right. I also re-read the post and found it sort of snobby and pretentious, (though I am probably both of those things). It's a realy fine-line between saying an opinion is wrong and being too closed-minded. And it's hard to find that middle-ground.

At 5/29/06, 9:00 PM, Blogger Ezzie said...

I should note I didn't find the post snobby at all, just that the same line you said could be used the wrong way.


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