Experiences Determine our Opinions
Loyola Students, as well as people in Baltimore are human beings whose opinions are formulated not by what we consider to be right and wrong, but by our past experiences and circumstances. But not only that, our opinions are also formed by the news we watch, and by the people we talk to. At Loyola, people, including myself love to talk about how we believe certain ideas because we are principled and our opinions align with what is “right” rather than what we call “wrong.” However, perhaps if I had grown up in Allentown, PA, like my mother, rather than in Raleigh, NC, my views would be completely different.
Last week, I went to Julian Zelizer’s talk titled, “Does the Political Establishment Matter Anymore,” where he argued that people should not just consider career politicians to be part of the political establishment, but that we also must consider the media a part of the political establishment also. Dr. Zelizer argued that whether we want to believe it or not, the media has an agenda, both on the national and local level, and that its agenda determines what news, people hear about and often what events people care about. As a result of going to Dr. Zelizer’s fantastic talk, I began to think about how, Loyola Students are affected by outside influences which cause us to believe in specific ideas.
One of the primary things I thought about after listening to Dr. Zelizer’s, was how is the Loyola Community affected by being in the city of Baltimore. The effects of Baltimore on Loyola are endless but I realized that the most important effect is that being in a city where many people are in poverty and one where there is a high crime rate, forces Loyola Students to volunteer and create programs to caringly and compassionately care for parts of the impoverished and suffering parts of Baltimore. Loyola’s widespread commitment to service certainly stems from its Jesuit principles but it is forced by the community which surround this school. It is my belief that Loyola, as a result better prepares its young men and women for life after college because of where it is located.
I noticed a similar conflict in Nathanial Hawthorne’s “Birthmark” as Aylmer asks his wife Georgiana about having her birthmark removed. Aylmer and Georgiana certainly differ in their opinions about the mark. The reason for their different opinions on man’s control of Nature, I believe is not because they are different genders but rather because they come from different backgrounds. On one hand, Georgiana comes from a background which places a significant value on how a person looks naturally and that a person’s body is made perfect by God. She believes that mankind should not alter nature to satisfy man’s preferences. On the other hand, I believe that Aylmer comes from a family which places let value on nature due to the fact that he believes nature can be altered, changed and even perfected by sciences of man. It is tempting to call Aylmer’s view of nature a “character flaw” but in reality it is a result of his past experiences which lead him do his current beliefs.
I am able to see now, that at Loyola and in this country today, we classify others, and at times ourselves too simplistically. We group people by race or by gender or by their socio-economic situation, but what people should do instead is view individuals, not as black or white, but instead as human beings with unique backgrounds and experiences which all together make up a single person. Everyone is created by their past experiences and at Loyola and in life we need to be careful not to oversimplify and person because in so doing we take away their humanity.