It’s safe to say freedom of speech is a core value of America and essential to the fair representation of all individuals. Furthermore, we are easily capable of expressing ourselves in today’s society, whether it’s with a simple tap of the keyboard and push of a button – or in this past week’s case, a stroke of chalk.
But what does this accessibility to freedom of speech do to our interpersonal skills? Is it truly constructive to voice an opinion that is either anonymous or backed by the semi-anonymity of an organization? Is there merit in openly disagreeing without working towards a solution?
All of these questions came to mind as I walked over the chalk-marked sidewalks of USD’s campus.
Chalking is a simple rebuttal to a complicated topic. It allows one to state various catchphrases, statistics or arguments. It doubles as an activity for student organization members and allows the general campus body to better understand a student organization. The information is concise and publicly portrayed, conveying a quick message.
Chalking leaves out a key aspect of communication: engaging effectively with those who differ in their opinions.
It doesn’t take bravery to “Chalk it Out.” It doesn’t take good character, debate skills or fortitude.
What is genuinely admirable is the courage to sit down with individuals of opposing viewpoints, and discuss solutions face-to-face. No screens, no pavement, no anonymity.
In this case, pushing for bipartisan approaches to birth control access, funding for adoption agencies, and support for single mothers/fathers could bridge the gap between the two groups. Civil discourse is a social skill that can and should be applied to any debate.
If we continue to polarize each other and fail to see the common ground on these issues, neither group can expect to be respected.
Fighting on the sidewalk certainly does not help those who have already experienced or are considering abortion, and it is unconvincing either way for those on the fence about this topic.
Fighting perpetuates the idea that pro-choice and pro-life groups will never come to an agreement, or at least find common ground. As a highly tech-savvy, impulsive, opinionated generation, we need to break the stereotype and more importantly, forget the stereotypes we have given opposing groups.