Forums for radical discussion key to cracking Americans’ silence
October 18, 2012
Filed under Opinion
We are silent. As a generation of young, educated, resource-rich Americans, duct tape seals our mouths. Instead of being on the front lines of environmental activism, our energies have become absorbed in iPhone screens and laptops. Technology has taken the role of fulfilling our human need for connection, support and entertainment. Physically coming together and having progressive, radical discussions has nearly fallen by the wayside.
Our national political consciousness has turned away from collaborative action. From the time we are born in America, society drills us with the need for independence over codependence, raising our country to be disconnected, separated and ignorant to the power of collaboration. Yet the only way we can address the grave challenges our world faces is through codependence, community and collective action, beginning with conversation.
One critical reason keeping us from conversation is the devaluation of collectivity. A core American value, independence, has led to the common belief that individuality gets suppressed within a group. As long as our country holds independence at its core, there is little space for codependency to exist. Today, codependency suggests weakness, when in reality it has powerful potential to heighten collaborative action.
Our culturally ingrained individualism has overridden the value of collective communication. Instead of discussing what’s at stake in our world, we convince ourselves that what truly matters, independence, can be better accomplished staring into LCD layers with glass substrates.
Yet we know that we face grave problems as a planet. Earth’s population has recently mounted seven billion, resources are consumed at a highly unsustainable rate and the future of mankind is grim. These problems are on a scale that demands collaborative participation. Being independent, regardless of how brilliant or resource-rich you may be, will never be sufficient to make even a dent on global climate change, population expansion or issues of international importance. Stepping outside of our comforting personal bubbles and entering into the realm of collaboration is the key to addressing environmental, social and economic injustices.
Although many groups around the world are involved in collective mobilization, we seem blind to this in America. Until our national mentality of independence and codependence is reanalyzed, true collaboration will continue to be tainted with ego-driven motives. We need to step outside of ourselves and act collectively
To start, we need to get to the root of our issues, stretching our minds beyond Band-Aid solutions. This requires a new type of connection, one that is truly radical (derived from the Latin “radix,” meaning “root”). By analyzing whether independence should realistically be valued over codependence, the gateway into radical dialogue will open. The act of collaborative discussion alone is a good start in encouraging us to approach problems together and share ideas.
Real change requires stepping out on a limb. The silent inaction characterized by the majority of young Americans leads to denial of personal and moral responsibility. Therefore, to begin the shift towards creating a positive, egoless national community, forums for radical discussion must be opened. Radical discussion has never been more important than it is today due to the necessity of collective action to address the large scale havoc surrounding us. It is time to rip off our duct tape, question the unchallenged praise of independence, look up from our LCD screens and break the naive silence reigning our country’s youth. Radical discussion is the key to exploring our root values that will launch us forward into the future we, as of now, can only vaguely envision.