Open minds needed to decide what?s right

By By Douglas Jennings

By Douglas Jennings

Cathy Maples of Huntsville, Ala., recently spent $63,500 on eBay to have dinner with Sarah Palin. The former governor of Alaska agreed to the event as part of a fundraising opportunity for the charity Ride 2 Recovery, which supports wounded veterans through cycling programs. Maples owns a defense contracting company and would like to see Palin as president in 2012. Couldn’t they have had a bake sale instead?

As a supposed champion of the underdog in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, how does Palin justify anyone spending $63,500 for a few hours of dinner conversation discussing her political ambitions? As a lifelong liberal Democrat, I obviously find Palin to be the antithesis of a competent, suitable politician. However, Palin’s dinner venture and the recent Conservative Day on campus got me thinking not only about why we believe what we believe, but also about what path of information we take to get there and what would make us spend $63,500 dollars on it.

Obviously socialization: In which socioeconomic class you fit, what your parents believe, whether you are religious, etc., plays a huge role in shaping your political opinions, but what about the information you use to get there? Are you really a heart-thumping conservative if you simply “don’t like” illegal immigrants because of what you heard Bill O’Reilly say on FOX News last night? Or are you a bleeding-heart liberal if you enjoy listening to National Public Radio on your drive to school in the morning? What qualifies as “good” information and what doesn’t?

In the age of technological, highly partisan blog-Twitter-Facebook-cable media, finding unobstructed information becomes impossible8212;it simply does not exist.

A recent UCLA study emphasizes bias in the media. The study notes that “While the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal is conservative, the newspaper’s news pages are liberal, even more liberal than The New York Times. The Drudge Report may have a right-wing reputation, but it leans left. Coverage by public television and radio is conservative compared to the rest of the mainstream media.”

What to do? Stay logical. There will always be a massive corporate behemoth or an ideological organization behind the wheel of every source; it is not so much about deciphering what is right and what is wrong but having an open mind to decipher what is suitable content on both sides in forming the basis of your assumptions.

Science should probably play a role; harsh ideology, in any form, should probably not. Regardless of what opinions you form, it is our burden to live in a world and in a democracy where we must cope in co-existence with the 6.5 billion other people on the planet who think and live in 6.5 billion different ways.

In a globalized world with a future full of probable challenges8212;global warming, AIDS and overpopulation, just to name a few8212;keeping an ever-forming, open mind is crucial to the long-term stability of all. So if you’re a member of the College Republicans or the U Democrats8212;keep an open mind on the path to progress. And if your $63,500 dollars only wins you a dinner with Sarah Palin, I would reassess where your priorities lie and put your money where your mouth is.

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